A celebrated philosopher once said that in order to understand anything human we must tell a story. He spoke a profound truth, and it is important to understand some of its implications.

Art, including musical and literary art, tells us very little about what we are. That kind of information is the business of science, which teaches that we are mammalian animals, first cousins to the great apes. On the other hand, art has much to tell us about who we are. It reminds us that we are persons, or better said, men and women, who daily add pages to a private narrative, or notes to an inimitable life melody. We are the novelists of ourselves. If we exist at a primary level as biological creatures subject to nature’s laws and limitations, on a different plane we live as unique biographical persons whose mission is not to remain at nature’s mercy but to humanize the world with artifact and artistry, creed and creativity, song and story. The thirteen tales in this book are modest examples of the high art of being human in a rich alchemy of styles, times, and climes

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