“Curiosity never killed this cat.”

Studs Terkel, dead at 96.  Unhappy Halloween.  I just got back with the sugared Princess Aurora and The Little Pumpkin to find the news piling up in my feed reader.  It would be disingenuous for me to suggest that this comes as a surprise; dude was 96, and every time for the past few years I’d read another profile piece, or something of his, or something clearly derivative of his work, I’d think damn, how many years left do we get from this guy?  How many more great books? I guess I have my answer.

I did Life Story work during my graduate studies at USM – might have mentioned that before.  It should be a requirement of the clinical counseling masters’ program; it’s certainly played a positive role in how I conduct myself as a counselor.  I burned my wrists to gnarled carpal tunnel crisps that summer, feverishly transcribing life stories of my relatives on the old Alphasmart 2000, and because of those aching wrists that project remains unfinished.  More to transcribe, more to record.  This is a good reminder for me.

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USM’s Life Story Center is a great resource.  The director, Bob Atkinson, also has two titles that I can personally recommend, should you be interested in capturing the life stories of your family, or others:

Thumbnail image of 'The Life Story Interview' coverThe Life Story Interview (1998)
Thumbnail image of 'The Gift of Stories' coverThe Gift of Stories: Practical and Spiritual Applications of Autobiography, Life Stories, and Personal Mythmaking (1995)

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The subject of this post comes from the Times’ obit:

In “Talking to Myself: A Memoir of My Times,” Mr. Terkel took on his toughest interview, and many critics found the book frustrating for its refusal to delve too deeply into its author’s personal life and feelings. Mr. Terkel acknowledged the justice of the complaint.

“I’ve met hundreds, no, I’ve met thousands of interesting people, and I’ve been so caught up with them and fasinated by them and intrigued with them it’s almost like there’s no room inside me to be interested in my own feelings and thoughts,” he told an interviewer.

It may be the one time in his life that Mr. Terkel’s ruling passion failed him. “I don’t have to stay curious, I am curious, about all of it, all the time,” he once said. “ ‘Curiosity never killed this cat — that’s what I’d like as my epitaph.”

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4 thoughts on ““Curiosity never killed this cat.”

  1. I have never head of life story work, but it sounds like it has some kinship with narrative therapy. Thanks for the book suggestions – this looks very interesting.

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