I was a little depressed to hear on the radio the other day that we now have a 'storytelling laureate' (Taffy Thomas, pictured) because, I'm afraid, I just don't get on with storytelling.
Before I have to duck a few bricks I ought to explain. I know some enthusiastic storytellers, and they're good at it. I don't mean people who excel at gossip, I mean those who practice the ancient art of oral storytelling. We are a storytelling species - it comes naturally to us - and for many thousands of years the only storytelling form was oral. And it still works fine for an audience of children, but for some (and I stress some) adults, myself included, it just doesn't make the grade.
When compared with reading a book, I think storytelling is a bit like going back to a typewriter after you've been used to a good computer. It sort of does the job, but nowhere near as well. The thing is, I'm a very fast reader. I hurtle through books, taking things in at breakneck speed. I probably miss some of the nuances of fiction because of this, but it's how my brain works. Oral storytelling is, by comparison, desperately slow.
You can listen to the new laureate, Taffy Thomas, here to get a feel for the sort of thing I'm talking about. Not only is the pace fairly turgid there's a lot of repetition. This is common in oral storytelling, and is, I think, both for rhythm purposes and to aid memory in the oral tradition. But I just find it irritating. The other problem I have is that oral storytelling often labours the point. In Thomas's story on the radio, there's a punchline when he reveals the grandmother watching them rock the baby in a golden cradle, but then he has to go on to explain why this fulfills the wishes of the protagonist. I don't need that. It was obvious. Move on.
I love books, and loving good books (fiction or non-fiction) means loving story. But I don't have to love a particular medium. I'm not that fond of graphic novels either. They just don't work for me like a proper book. And the same goes for storytelling. Sorry, Taffy, but you're boring.