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Posts from the ‘storytelling’ Category

‘Haints in the Woods’ excerpt

“Haints in the Woods” is one of nine short stories in my recently released collection Widely Scattered Ghosts. Here a brief excerpt featuring characters from my novel Lena:

Praise the good Lord, as the deacon would say, for Pollyanna chose that moment to drive her grey Ford truck through the busted section of the wrought iron fence into the back yard. She wore her favorite green capri pants, black blouse, black slingback sandals, and a wide smile that showed off her new black lipstick and matching nail polish.

“Young people,” whispered Eulalie.

Pollyanna came up to the porch with an Alligator Supreme orange crate chuck full of who knows what covered over in butcher paper.

“Did you see a soused sinner riding his hinny back home?” asked Eulalie.

“Why, is one missing?”

“I was just telling Lena that I think Willie’s sharing jelly and juice with some dusty butt miles away from where he’s supposed to be.”

Pollyanna set down the orange crate. “I don’t even know what that means.”

“Sex and booze with a ho,” Eulalie said.

“Holy shit.” Pollyanna slumped down into the sagging couch with a fading smile. When Eulalie handed her the Mason jar of shine, she wasn’t shy about drinking her fill.

“I ain’t really po’ moufin’ my brand-new husband,” said Eulalie. “I’m hopin’ he is a soused sinner today.”

“I know I’m repeating myself, but holy shit.”

“Beats bein’ among the dead. I threw the bones an hour ago, and they said he’s with the dead. Then Lena went lookin’ for him on a spirit journey, and she saw nothin’ but ace-of-spades blackness. As you white folks sometimes say, we’re on tenterhooks.”

Copyright © 2019 by Malcolm R. Campbell

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Tempting you with words and tambourines

Like Gordon Lightfoot’s “Minstrel of the Dawn” and Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” storytellers are always tempting you to follow them, as though through faerie rings, to the farthest reaches of tall tales, music, and imagination. We can’t promise you’ll return the way you were when you left the everyday land of logic, but you’ll find yourselves reborn in just the way the god of your heart intended.

For temptations from my website, I invite you to click on this picture:

 

–Malcolm

Why We Rise – Joseph Campbell’s View

“Most attribute the foundations of Western story structure to Aristotle. His simple idea that stories should have a beginning, a middle, and an end has long served as the template for how narratives have been communicated. Joseph Campbell, by contrast, wisely popularized the idea that the narrative journey was actually a cycle — that every ending brought forth new beginnings, that every death brought forth resurrection and new life.”

Source: MythBlast | Why We Rise – JCF: Home

I like this Joseph Campbell Foundation essay about the cyclical nature of stories and how they interact with the nature of our lives. You’ll find this in Campbell’s writings about The Hero’s Journey, the idea–as the author puts it–that the beginnings we discover in the new year don’t arise from a blank slate. As Frank Herbert mentioned in his novel Dune, the intuitive can look backward in time and see–like footprints across the sand–the steps one has taken to arrive where they are in life at any given moment.

Put this in a novel, and you call those steps “the plot” or “foreshadowing.” Story helps us identify these kinds of patterns in “real life” just as “real life” suggests to us the stories we tell, both fiction and memoir.

–Malcolm

The truth of the tale

“Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination, and of the heart.” – Salman Rushdie

When I was a child, my grandfather told me my mother walked in her sleep when she was a child. He put a stop to this by scattering peanut shells outside her bedroom door.

My mother remembered the peanut shells only because she had heard the story. All she knew for sure was that she hadn’t sleepwalked since she was a child, reasoning that she simply grew out of it.

Were there ever any shells on the floor?

Within the story, the shells were real. In reality, they may not have been real. It doesn’t matter. The peanut shells exist simply because the story was told, and re-told, and told again. Many of our “realities” seem to originate in this way.

The storyteller knows this. In his bad of tricks, he has an infinite supply of once-upon-a times, ready made like rare medications, dangerous drugs, curses, and miracles to unleash upon your life when you’re ready for his cure to what ails you.

As Gordon Lightfoot sang in “Minstrel of the Dawn,” released in 1970, “And if you meet him you must be the victim of his minstrelsy.” We are our stories, true or not, and they sustain us for better and/or for worse.

Most people I know asked their parents and grandparents to tell them stories and to be read a story before bedtime. These stories morphed into dreams and ways of seeing the world.

These days, people try to kill the storyteller by claiming to be offended. All they have to do is stop listening or stop reading if the story isn’t to their liking. There’s not much opportunity for growth in that approach, but we can approach truths that way. After all, ignorance is the last bastion against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

One day, we might wake up when we step on a peanut shell we didn’t believe was there.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy and magical realism novels, including the upcoming novel “Lena” schedule for release August 1 from Thomas-Jacob Publishing.