Liralen's Reviews > Story/Time: The Life of an Idea

Story/Time by Bill T. Jones
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's review
Jul 31, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: first-reads, dance-gymnastics, nonfiction, z-2014, stories-and-essays, photography-art, reviewed

Story/Time is very much a thinking book. It's a performance in written form -- with more than a nod to John Cage -- but it's done in such a way that you can really see all the thought that's gone into it.

Although this isn't a memoir or autobiography or anything like that, Jones's background as a performer -- not just a dancer -- really comes through here. The book is very thoughtful in terms of arrangement; it's not so much a book to read as it is one to experience. It's taken me almost a month to sit down to write a review of it, mostly because it the book gave me so much to think about.

Two impressions stayed with me after the performance: the first was just how bewildering the event had been, and the second was a realization that I had been bored and yet could not stop thinking about the event for days after. The event taught me that boredom is not a problem in and of itself. (2)

I don't want to quote from the middle section of the book, the stories, because ideally they should really be experienced as they're written, with visual cues for timing and the like. And I certainly wasn't bored reading those stories, or this book as a whole. But I loved that thought (not from that middle section, and therefore quotable here!), and in some ways it seems to sum up Story/Time. You might like the stories, you might not; you might like the structure, you might not; if they make you think, they've done their job.

I'm interested, too, in the randomised arrangement of the stories. It's the same format Jones uses in the performance of the work onstage, but using it in a book speaks to confidence in the work in a way that performing in the same way does not. The stage is ephemeral; if a particular arrangement doesn't go well, if someone flubs their lines or misses steps, there's always the next performance. In a book it's more rigid, more permanent. But it does work here, which says to me that a lot of work went into the creation of the stories and the timing and how they can be pieced together.

Again, I won't quote from the stories themselves, but my favourites were 155 ('Small boys thinking...') and 90A ('March 23, 2011...'). Things to think about.

I received a free copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 31, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
July 31, 2014 – Shelved
July 31, 2014 – Shelved as: first-reads
August 1, 2014 – Shelved as: dance-gymnastics
August 1, 2014 – Shelved as: nonfiction
August 27, 2014 – Shelved as: z-2014
August 27, 2014 – Shelved as: stories-and-essays
August 27, 2014 – Shelved as: photography-art
September 20, 2014 – Shelved as: reviewed

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