Book cover (Yvonne Parks)
Mary Louise Chown is launching her first book Tuesday November 29, 7:00 p.m.at McNally Robinson. It's a collection of conversations, folktales and stories that reflect on people's personal experience.
When you hear Mary Louise Chown's voice you aren't surprised to learn she is a storyteller. A well known one at that. She is also a trained teacher and artist and was the Winnipeg Public Library's first Storyteller-in-Residence.
SCENE asked Mary Louise to share a sample story from Now I Know the World is Round: Stories at the End of Life:
Once I told the following folktale to three patients gathered for lunch in the dining room at Grace Hospice. Afterwards, all three said that the story could have happened in real life, when you think something's bad and then it turns out all right. One patient rose from the table, and began walking slowly back to his room, pushing his walker in front of him. As he passed by where I was standing, he paused, turned to look at me, and said, "Those Chinese really knew what they were talking about."
Maybe Good Maybe Bad
An old man and his son were farmers in a small village in China near the borders of Mongolia. One day a magnificent wild stallion from the surrounding hills jumped over their paddock fence and went right into their stable. The father said to his son "Close the barn doors".
All the neighbours exclaimed, "Ah, what a piece of good fortune this is!"
"Perhaps", said the old man, "only time will tell."
And sure enough, one day the stallion escaped and fled back into the hills. And the neighbors said, "Oh what bad luck."
"Perhaps not," said the old man, "Some good may come of this. Only time will tell".
Some while later, in the middle of the night, the stallion returned, bringing a herd of wild mares down from the hills.
"What a piece of good fortune this is", said the neighbors. "You will be rich now for the rest of your life."
"Let's wait and see." said the old man. And sure enough, when the son began breaking in one of the mares, he fell off the horse, breaking his hip. The village doctor told him, "Your hip will mend, but it will be months before you can walk again."
And the old father had to shoulder all the work. His neighbors commiserated with him. "What a piece of bad luck!"
But the old father merely said, "Maybe, maybe not. Only time will tell"
That same summer, the Emperor of China made war on neighboring Mongolia, and every able-bodied young man was rounded up, and sent off to war. The son was not taken because he could not walk. Very few of those young men came home again.
"So you see," said the old man. "You never know, until the story is over, what is good fortune or bad fortune."
Mary Louise Chown (Arthur Quanbury)
You can also catch Mary Louise Chown at Charisma of India Restaurant, 83 Sherbrook on Tuesday Dec 6th talking about her book, telling a story or two from it and playing the dulcimer as well.The buffet dinner is at 6:30 and the presentation is at 7:00 PM.
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