Then today I happened to read Judith Ridge's article in the March 2006 issue of the Horn Book on the books of Boori Monti Pryor, an Aboriginal, and his white partner, Meme McDonald, in which the power of that quote in the context of Aboriginal storytelling was addressed.
It’s a fascinating concept of story — that what is most powerful lies in what cannot be said. The experience made Meme realize that “stories are our lifeblood — they instruct us how to live and how to be and what visions to hold true. They’re fundamental to the happiness of our lives, so they’re very precious. So in that sense, I think if you start to regard stories as an absolute essential of life, rather than a distraction from life, then how you evolve them and in what context, what respect you have for the source of that story, becomes very important whatever culture you come from.”
The point of all of this, of course, is that this new — or, rather, most ancient — way of creating stories isn’t just an issue for Aboriginal people. In fact, it’s not even just about story — it’s about life and culture and creating a society based on principles of respect and collaboration.
As for the quote, "Stories can save your life", one frequently cited source for it is Tim O'Brien's book "The Things They Carried", though of course Sharhazad in "1001 Arabian Nights" is the best example, as Susan Fletcher discusses on her website in connection with her book "Shadow Spinner".
I can't wait to get back to school and find that girl again. I need to talk to her...