For a slim volume, [Peter Brooks’s] Seduced by Story covers an impressive array of topics: oral narrative, the function of character, the role of narration in law, storytelling’s affinity with child’s play, what narrators know and don’t know, those raconteurs who calculate the act of narrating into their stories and those who refuse to be authoritative. In the end, however, there is a touch of desperation about demanding so much of fiction and narrative while acknowledging the ease with which they are abused. It isn’t that Brooks thinks fiction can save us, as I.A. Richards believed poetry could; it’s rather that he can think of nowhere else to turn. Story and poetry are important, to be sure, but not that important. Literary types, unsurprisingly, have often overrated their power, loading them with a pressure to which they are unequal. The hope that value and insight are to be found mainly in art is a symptom of our condition, not a solution to it.
I strongly endorse this view. Story may seduce us but it can never save us.