If by "story" you mean, "plot," then yes, certainly. I've been reading Michael Moorcock's Hawkmoon saga as of late, and the plot is pretty standard "sword-wielding champion vs. the evil empire" fare. The main reason I enjoy it is because of the imagery and ideas. Moorcock has an excellent aesthetic sense, and his descriptions of the world around the characters are varied, colorful, and interesting. They really tend to stick in the mind. What's more, he writes some of the most interesting and original sorcery I've ever seen. In the first book, Jewell in the Skull, Dorian Hawkmoon is captured by the evil Baron Meliadus of the Empire of Granbretan, as he intends to use him as a pawn to kidnap the lovely Yisselda to blackmail Count Brass, one of the only monarchs of Europe to oppose them. To ensure his loyalty, they have a machine that resembles a vast, multi-hued living spider web, which condenses part of its mass into a black jewel, embedding it on Hawkmoon's forehead. The sorcerers can see through the black gem, and if they suspect Hawkmoon is conspiring against them, they can remotely turn the black gem back into it's living, web-like form, causing it to devour his brain in the process. That's just one example of Moorcock's impressive creativity, and there are many more. He's not very creative when it comes to plot, but he makes up for it in abundance.
Wait, so are you asking "Why can't a story just be read for the enjoyment of reading?"
I think the mark of a good story is layers. On the surface, you have a seemingly simple story that you can read and enjoy. But a shallow story like that just isn't interesting. When I read, I want to read something that the author put some thought into, where everything isn't exactly what it seems.
I agree, at first an onion may seem frusturating and pointless. But if you blink away the tears, you can appreciate many layers of onion-y goodness. Think how pointless an onion with only one thin outer layer would be!
Why? Am I naive to want to read art for art's sake? Why must everything be diluted by analysis? Can some things not be pure? Is love not better than charity? Are we machines that turn a visual feast into written garbage? Is the scientific method best left to the sciences? Is art no more than claptrap?