A fascinating dialogue on the human desire to make up stories between Nobel Prize–winning author J. M. Coetzee and psychotherapist Arabella Kurtz
The Good Story is an exchange between a writer with a long-standing interest in moral psychology and a psychotherapist with training in literary studies. Coetzee and Kurtz consider psychotherapy and its wider social context from different perspectives, but at the heart of both their approaches is a fascination with narrative. Working alone, the writer is in control of the story he or she tells. The therapist, on the other hand, collaborates with the patient in telling the story that might reveal the “truth.”
The authors discuss both individual psychology and the psychology of the group: the school classroom, the gang, the settler nation in which the brutal deeds of the ancestors must be accommodated into a national story. In a meeting of the minds that is illuminating, surprising, and thought provoking, Coetzee and Kurtz explore the human capacity for self-examination—our attempts to understand our own individual life stories as well as our part in the larger story through language.