I’ve always loved stories.
As a kid, I befriended my neighbor with stories that quickly became intertwined throughout middle school and then high school and then into adulthood. Stories have birthed so many other friendships throughout the years. As a student, I’d always prefer a paper over a test. I’ve told stories on porches, in letters, in the gaps of working in newsrooms and while parenting. I’ve listened to others’ stories and forged bonds over words and experiences.
And, of course, I’ve read many books and strung together many words bound up in my own book and my own soul.
As I was settling into post-college young adulthood and figuring out who I was, I read “All Over But the Shoutin’” by Rick Bragg. I was a young newspaper reporter at the time soaking up a veteran reporter’s storytelling about his home. His childhood and career path were different than mine, but his words brought me home to my own experiences and places and people.
(Here’s a list of all of his books if you’re interested.)
We all have stories that connect us.
I got to meet Rick Bragg last weekend right here in the small Kentucky town I call home that’s probably not so different than his small neck of the woods in Alabama. I listened to him tell some stories and read a few paragraphs from his newest book, got to shake his hand, and share a tiny piece of my own story.
And, of course, I bought his newest book – “The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table.” Yes, it has recipes inside, but, perhaps more importantly, it has the stories from around his family’s table.
When it was my turn to get his book – okay, BOOKS, plural, because I brought my favorite “All Over But the Shoutin’” with me too – the librarian I know introduced me as a former newspaper reporter who still writes and is a stay-at-home mom. I appreciated her letting him know where our stories overlapped and his words of encouragement were a blessing. (See that note and autograph above.)
Funny story about the other book I had him sign: I bought “All Over But the Shoutin’” at a thrift store or yard sale and it was already autographed to someone else. So he changed that and obviously enjoyed doing so. I didn’t know if I was going to have him (re) sign it, but when he talked about thrift stores in his presentation, I knew he’d appreciate me being introduced to him through someone else.
I’d love to hear about a storyteller you love.