The Next Great Paulie Fink is about the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we cling to, and the stories we absorb — unconsciously, sometimes, like fish that don’t notice the water they’re swimming in — from the world around us. It’s about the inherent incompleteness of any single story, about the way our narratives can either limit or expand us. Ultimately, it’s about who we might get to be if we are brave enough to try on a new story.
In writing this book, I didn’t want to simply write about stories; I actually tried to mirror the history of storytelling itself. There’s a moment in the book where the characters move from oral storytelling (the oral tradition) into written stories. I also packed the book with as many storytelling forms as possible. This isn’t the sort of thing that a kid would necessarily notice, but it sure was a fun challenge for me (and who knows, maybe a teacher could have some fun with it, too).
Among the storytelling formats that appear in The Next Great Paulie Fink:
- Oral histories
- Tall tales
- Reality television
- Thought experiments
- Newspaper (nonfiction) accounts
- The dreaded comments section of the internet
- By the end, the whole thing ventures into something distinctly post-modern storytelling form, in which narrative and symbol are deconstructed, past and present blend, and the fourth wall may or may not be broken.