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Yes, yes – in the end I found it.

We talked about that quote of Bernard Malamud, didn’t we? The one about stories, stories, stories, the one I was sure I’d jotted down and never found again – not in old notebooks, not in the Web… That one.

Well, as was bound to happen, I found it in the end.

It turns out that I had it rather wrong – or at least, whoever translated it into Italian in the way I remembered had it wrong. It was not about stories, stories, stories – but…

With me it’s always story, story, story…

And it goes on to say very wise things about story being, to his thinking, the basic element of fiction – no matter what some might say, or try to do, to the contrary…

The story will be with us as long as man is. You know that, in part, because of its effect on children. It’s through story that they realize that mystery won’t kill them. Through story they learn that they have a future.

It all comes from an interview with Israel Shenker in the early Seventies – and while I’m not sure I’d put it quite in the same terms, I wholeheartedly agree about the importance of “story” to all the ways in which mankind knows itself – not to mention to the art and craft of fiction.

So, the quote is found, and all’s well that ends well, right?

Er… no. Not quite, at least. Because you see…

After all the ado of several years, the actual quote is almost a bit of a disappointment. I really thought I remembered “stories, stories, stories – for me there is nothing else”… well, the Italian equivalent. In fact, I’m quite sure it was a plural in the translation. It was also out of context, I realise – but that way it sounded like the statement of some kind of existential condition. Instead it turns out to be a wise and useful bit of craft musing. Quite a good bit – and one I share – so why I should be slightly disappointed I really don’t know.

Perhaps because I see myself growingly obsessed with, and lost in stories, stories stories – and it would have made a good motto for this sort of madness?

Ah well. My bad entirely – and all the more because I do agree on “Story, story, story” too. It’s just… the difference, perhaps, between recognising wisdom and feeling a resonance? I’ll live. I just won’t have it made into a pendant or something.