Lincoln City Libraries – One Book – One Lincoln – 2008 Story Starters
Several of the main themes of “The Thirteenth Tale” relate to storytelling — what is the nature of “truth” when someone experienced at fabricating stories is forced to look at their own life? Where does the creative impulse come from that allows people to construct richly detailed worlds that have never existed in reality?
STORY STARTER LINES FROM THE BOOK — I was adjusting the long-distance lens when I caught a slight movement at the edge of the frame. Not my ghost. The children were back. They had seen something in the grass, were bending over it excitedly. What was it? A snake? Curious, I fine-tuned the focus to see more clearly. . . .  — Preparing to walk a long way around the boundary to find a way in, I had taken only a few steps when I came to a small wooden gate set in a wall with nothing but a latch to fasten it. In an instant I was inside. . . . [Pg. 126]  — I woke early. Too early. The monotonous fragment of a tune was scratching at my brain. With more than an hour to wait before . . . . [Pg. 79]  — I left home on an ordinary winter day . . . [Pg. 37]  — Hester’s gifts of insight and intelligence were quite extraordinary. Yet counterbalancing these talents was the fact that she did not know quite who she was up against.   — A great many years had passed since I learned . . . . [Pg. 253]  — Tell me the truth. The words from the letter were trapped in my head, trapped, it seemed, beneath the sloping ceiling of my attic flat, like a bird that has got in down the chimney. It was natural that the boy’s pleas should have affected me; I who had never been told the truth, but left to discover it alone and in secret. Tell me the truth. Quite.   — It was the first time I had been there as an invited guest, and the first thing I noticed . . . [pg. 309]  — When I came to the edge of the woods, I saw . . . . [pg. 328]  — Once upon a time there was a house and the house was haunted. The ghost was. . . . [pg. 349]  — The dead go underground. Words that had arrived fully formed in my mind, leaving no trail behind them. Where had they come from? What tricks had my mind been playing to come up with these words out of nowhere?   — It was Christmas Eve; it was late; it was snowing hard. . . [pg. 353]  — “One gets so used to one’s own horrors, one forgets how they must seem to other people.” [pg. 56]  — Plunging deep into Miss Winter’s story was a way of turning my back on my own. Yet one cannot simply snuff oneself out in that fashion. [pg. 282]  — “One should always pay attention to ghosts, shouldn’t one, Miss Lea?” [pg. 58]  — I used to think that I loved rain, but in fact I hardly knew it. The rain I loved was genteel town rain, made soft by all the obstacles the skyline put in its path, and warmed by the rising heat of the town itself. On the moors, enraged by the wind and embittered by the chill, the rain was vicious. [pg. 291]  — Unhappy birthday. From the day I was born, grief was always present. It settled like dust upon the household. It covered everyone and everything; it invaded us with every breath we took. It shrouded us in our own separate miseries. [pg. 292]  — “Everybody has a story. It’s like families. You might not know who they are, might have lost them, but they exist all the same. You might drift apart or you might turn your back on them, but you can’t say you haven’t got them. Same goes for stories. So,” she concluded, “everybody has a story. When are you going to tell me yours?” [pg. 300]
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