Buy     About     Reviews        Excerpt      TOC      FAQ      Big Ideas

  • Human bodies are stuck on earth, but our minds live in Storyland.  By the time we die, we will have spent more time in the provinces of storyland (novels, plays, TV shows, songs, dreams, fantasies, and so on) than anywhere else.
  •  Our species-wide addiction to storytelling is one of the great unsolved (and until recently, unrecognized) mysteries of evolutionary biology.
  • The storylands of fiction, dreams, and children’s make believe are all closer to hells than heavens. The deeply  troubled nature of storyland is a key clue the evolutionary mystery of story.
  • We all have a set of left hemisphere brain circuits that force story structure onto the chaos of our lives.  When these circuits run amok we get schizophrenia, wild conspiracy theories and, sometimes, immortal works of poetry and fiction.
  • Flip through the sacred scriptures of any society in the history of the world, and you will be flipping through an anthology of stories.  Religion is the ultimate expression of story’s dominion over our minds.  The heroes of sacred fiction swarm through the real world, exerting astonishing influence over life on earth.
  • Contrary to the claims of moralist and literary critics, most successful fiction—from folk tales to novels to TV dramas—is conventionally ethical. Far from degrading a culture’s moral fabric, fiction pulls us together around common values.
  • On the surface, fiction stories are wildly creative and endlessly varied, but the world’s stories are built upon a universal grammar—a single master formula that extends through time and across cultures.
  • Neuroscience is showing why stories move us so powerfully.  Brains on fiction “catch” the emotions enacted on the page or screen. When we watch Clint Eastwood get mad on film, our brains look angry too; when the scene is sad, our brains also look sad.
  • We all have a life story that defines us—a narrative that describes who we are and how we got this way. But our comically unreliable self-narration is underpinned by boldly fictionalized memories.   We are our stories, and those stories are more truthy than true.
  • Story has the power to change the world for the better (Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped end slavery), but also disastrously for the worse (story motivated the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing, brought the KKK back from the dead, and inspired Adolf Hitler).
  • Small children play at story by instinct. Children pretend even when they are hungry and  scared; children pretended in Auschwitz.  So soccer practice and violin lessons are nice, but unstructured journeys in Neverland are a vital part of a child’s healthy development.

Buy     About     Reviews        Excerpt      TOC      FAQ      Big Ideas