This book investigates the forms and functions of storytelling in everyday conversation. It develops a rhetoric of everyday storytelling through an integrated approach to both the internal structure and the contextual integration of narrative passages. It aims at a more complete picture of oral narrative through analysis of a wider range of natural data, including personal anecdotes told for humor, put-down stories told for self-aggrandizement, family stories retold to ratify membership and so on, as well as marginal stories and narrative-like passages to delineate the boundaries of conversational storytelling and to test the analytical techniques proposed.
Using transcriptions of stories from everyday talk, Norrick explores disfluencies, formulaicity and repetition as teller strategies and listener cues alongside global phenomena such as retelling and narrative macrostructures. He also extends his analysis to narrative jokes from conversation and to narrative passages in drama, namely Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" and Beckett's "Endgame".