The Power and the Glory of the "Sunday Morning Story"
Novelist Christopher Herz, author of "The Last Block in Harlem," is once again using his unlimited hustle and charm to bring people together with the power of storytelling, using an innovative form he has invented called the "Sunday Morning Story."

With his newest project, the confines of his community have grown a lot larger then his block in Harlem: now Herz is trying to unite the whole dang world.

Every Sunday morning, people from all over are tweeting Herz pictures of what they are seeing, and then Herz creates a short narrative prose-poem to go with the pictures, tying many points of view together with one grand narrative.

The "Sunday Morning Story" is like a giant Thematic Apperception Test, the psychological metric where a subject is given a bunch of connected illustrations and is tasked with putting them all together into one coherent story. However, these pictures are weekly windows into people's lives around the world, and the storyteller is a professional novelist.

"I was sitting at my desk on a Sunday morning and I noticed, on the fire escape across the street from me, a cat stranded and trying to get off of it. I wondered how it got up there in the first place," said Herz. "It wasn't from the apartment attached because the guy inside was taking a picture of it. Then I started thinking of what everyone else was doing on their Sunday mornings. So I asked them."

Herz uses every picture that he gets, playing no favorites and trying to incorporate them all. It's hard to say what is more beautiful -- the constant, positive message or the photographs that Herz is generating and then giving context and a home.

"I don't censor," said Herz. "Someone once sent in a suitcase full of dolls - that was strange, but worked in the story. The best stuff was the pics from the revolution in Egypt -- those pics were incredible."


Every week brings a new set of photos and a new challenge.

From "Sunday Morning Story 2.13.11":

Seattle, Washington 2.13.11

Well thankfully, at the end of the path, there is man in Seattle waiting to pour you a nice glass of wine in exchange for your tales of the journey you have taken. How many bottles have been finished to tell a tale? An interlocking of souls of wine that has been made for thousands of years. At the table, please, sit, it?s okay if you?re not dressed for the occasion. There is no code here.

Leeds, UK 2.13.11

Of course, the best part about sharing a bottle of wine with people you don?t know are the oddities they bring with them. After all, we all have it in our souls. The strange and untold worlds we visit. TS Eliot would dress up like a goblin and run around the back alleys of his university at night. What do you do? What happened to these play pals after they were rescued from the forgotten box? They now live. Will you forget them? Another glass? Yes, perhaps another after that.

Somewhere in the UK, 2.13.11

Away from the alcohol, a child is left alone to make Valentine?s Day cupcakes for his teacher on Monday. There is nothing quite like the first crush we have on a teacher. In many ways, for many of us, it is our first love. Mrs. Oarwasher, Kindergarten, Los Angeles, if you are out there, let me tell you that it was you!


Herz has created something magical with his ongoing series. His concept has both immediacy and timelessness, like a good piece of journalism.

"It makes me feel connected to the world and gives me a chance to be social with my writing," said Herz. "Writing is often so solitary. This involves everyone. My goal is to unite the world through literature."

I wonder how other writers would respond to the challenge of the "Sunday Morning Story." I'd love to see other artists have to take the world's Thematic Apperception Test.

How would Stephen King respond to a glut of photos like these in his inbox? How about Camille Paglia? Or Lady Gaga?

"I think that if we experience other people's stories, we can understand them on an intimate level," said Herz. "Once you have that connection, it's more difficult to drop a bomb. We don't understand each other because we think we know each other."

According to Herz, the commonalities of people's lives drastically outweigh the differences.

"We are all pretty much the same," said Herz. "Cats, breakfast, sunlight, funny toys, kids -- it's universal."

If you are interested in becoming part of the "Sunday Morning Story," here are Herz's instructions for how to get involved, taken from his blog:

How can you be part of it this week?

1. Take a pic of what you are seeing in front of you on Sunday.

2. Post that pic, along with your location using Twit pic (or whatever pic uploading you use)- use the hashtag #sundaymorningstory and place it in my twitter timeline @herzwords

Like this: #sundaymorningstory @HerzWords North Bay, Ontario

3. If you don?t have twitpic or a similar device to upload files to twitter, you can email me the picture and location to: [email protected]

4. I will compile all the pics and locations, then post the literary mash-up story #SundayMorningStory later on that week.

The thought here is: By the end of the year, we?ll have a compilation of stories told by the world. It?s an experiment in mash-up literature I?m very excited about, and one that everyone can be involved in.

Literature connects the world.

Posted by miracle on Wed, 13 Apr 2011 18:46:15 -0500 -- permanent link

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