good storytelling

Hey there. I want to direct your attention today to the New York Times' annual feature "The Lives They Lived." Usually the Times profiles the famous who have passed away that year, but 2011's subhead is "These American Lives: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives."

Not famous, then, but even better, to my mind, the stories of ordinary people. And they are amazing. The one that had me in tears was "Uneasy Rider" by Mike DeStefano, an HIV-positive comedian who died last year. He tells a story about riding his girlfriend (who was in hospice care at the time) on the back of his motorcycle one last time, IV bottle held high, hospital gown flying. An excerpt:

I’ll never do anything that great again. Freakin’ HBO specials, whatever you want to give to me, nothing will be better than that because it was such a deep reckoning within myself that I am not a piece of crap, that I don’t deserve to stick needles in my arm. I am a good person, look what I’m capable of. I’m capable of deep love and commitment, you know? That was my whole life was taking care of her..

Start there, and you can make your way around, if you like. Good storytelling.


  1. Hi Deb,
    Thanks for sharing this! Everytime I talk about telling your story in the library I think of you - I like to think I am channeling you whenever I am telling kids about how important it is to tell their story. I think back to a few years ago when you visited my students and your talk about story. I also think of your friend Coleen Salley and how the two days I spent with her I heard her stories, stories I will never forget.
    This week I am doing a lesson on biographies - biography stew I call it and each piece in the "stew" represents a piece of a biography - I add twisty pretzels for "stories" in the biography - I tell the kids that the pretzels are the most important part of a biography!

    So thanks for the inspiration to teach my kids about stories.


  2. Hey, Kathy. It's always so good to hear from you. I loved that day with your kids and teachers and you. I also love that you have that Coleen connection. Your biographies sound terrific -- I love that image of the pretzel. I'm very interested in biographies right now and am trying to figure out how to tell them (especially in book two of this trilogy, but there are others) and keep a personal story at the forefront. It's a good discipline! Lucky students. xo


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