Swimming With Chaucer: a storyteller’s logbook

I’m pleased to say that my new book Swimming With Chaucer: a storyteller’s logbook will be coming out in fall, 2013, with Insomniac Press (www.insomniacpress.com).  They’re a great independent publisher based in London, Ontario, and I was thrilled when they accepted the manuscript.  Swimming With Chaucer is a kind of chronicle – or logbook – of a life lived like a storyteller.  My friend Angela Sidney, a Yukon elder, once told Julie Cruikshank, “I’ve tried to live my life right, just like a story.”  This became the title of a wonderful book that Julie edited, based on the life-stories and traditional myths of three Yukon women.  In my case, it seems more apt to say that I’ve tried to figure out what it means to be a twenty-first century storyteller, and how the wisdom carried in stories can interweave with the dilemmas, dangers, troubles, and joys of everyday life.  This book has many different kinds of writing, including seven letters my father wrote to me when I was going through the Sixties in California.  They became waymarkers.  The book also has a number of short essays about life in a storyteller’s house, neighbourhood, and city.  Storytelling is as much a philosophy as it is an art, and Swimming With Chaucer tries to show where this philosophy leads when you have to take on your responsibilities as a citizen.  There are four stories that frame the book, none of them published before: First One Red is a fictional commemoration of my children’s great-grandmother;  Talking You In is a piece about a father telling stories to his baby in the neonatal intensive care unit;  Stormfool’s Cool Gig is a yarn about a freelance storyteller’s greatest job; and Report of the Blue Djinn is a tribute to the bawdier stories in Chaucer, Boccaccio, and the Arabian Nights.

I’ll be posting information about readings/tellings from Swimming With Chaucer next fall.

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