May 19, 2008

Why Memoir? Part 3.4

In the various responses to my question (Why are audiences eating up personal memoir as a genre at storytelling events?), people suggested to me that personal memoir stories would appeal to:

1) folks who grew up deprived of these types of tales told round the kitchen table (and damn the television for it!); or,

2) folks who grew up with these types of tales told round the kitchen table, and miss that (damn that television!); or,

3) folks who grew up deprived of traditional tales (damn television!) and as a consequence can't relate to traditional tales, ergo, by default, prefer personal tales.

(What is it with storytellers and television? I'll gladly throw mine out the window too, but you'll have to pry my cold dead fingers off my high-speed internet connection before I give up episodes of Lost streamed to my computer.)

So which is it?

Are audiences hungering for something they've never had?
Or something they once had and lost?

Did your family tell stories, either around the dinner table or at gatherings of the extended clan? Does that experience have any impact on how you feel about hearing personal stories at storytelling events?

1 comment:

Granny Sue said...

Thanks for the anniversary wishes, Tim!

Storytellers and television: we're aural people. We like to listen and create our own mental images. We get annoyed when someone else tries to show us how the story should look. We tend to dislike the passivity of television because so many programs do not require mind power, and we like using our minds to create and wonder about things.

At least, that describes me and television. I find that often I'm not so different from others in the groups I like to hang with. Lots of folk musicians are the same way about television, but then most of them are storytellers too.

I grew up with the kitchen table model. It still exists in my family nad extended family today. It's what we do when we get together. It's even a formal part of our family reunions now. We gather at the fire and tell stories and sing songs. My grandchildren expect me to tell them stories--not always family stories but also folktales. The invite their friends to listen.

When I had a television, I still tended to be a listener. Maybe it's because as a child we had radio usually but TV rarely. As an adult, I've been TV-less more years than I've had one. I prefer radio. Since many storytellers seem to be in the 45-65 age group, maybe a lot of them were also TV-less as children and learned to listen instead of to watch.

Not that one is necessarily better than the other, but for those of us who are aural rather than visual, listening is the choice way of participating in storytelling.