Narrative has been central to human life for millennia, and the twentieth century has been preeminently the age of the story. Mass culture and mass leisure have enabled us to spend far more time absorbing stories, real and imaginary, than any of our ancestors. Whether or not this has been to our benefit is one of the questions raised by journalist and 1999 CBC Massey lecturer Robert Fulford. Narrative, Fulford points out, is how we explain, how we teach, how we entertain ourselves - often all at once. It is the bundle in which we wrap truth, hope, and dread. It is crucial to civilization.
Fulford writes engagingly and energetically about narrative history, narrative in news coverage, the rise of electronic narrative, and narrative as it flourishes in the form of gossip, "the folk-art version of literature," revealing to us the mystery, power, and importance of story in all our lives.