Monday, September 4, 2017

The Moth Presents All These Wonders

Title:  The Moth Presetns All These Wonders
Author:  Catherine Burns (editor)
Publication Information:  Crown Archetype. 2017. 352 pages.
ISBN:  1101904402 / 978-1101904404
Book Source:  I received this book through the Blogging for Books program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I first started hearing about the Moth in the late 1990s."

Favorite Quote:  "The Moth connects us, as humans. Because we all have stories. Or perhaps, because we are, as human, already an assemblage of stories. And the gulf that exists between us as people is that when we look at each other we might see faces, skin color, gender, race, or attitudes, but we don't see, we dan't see, the stories. And once we hear each other's stories we realize that the things we see as dividing us are, all too often, illusions, falsehoods:  that the walls between us are in truth no thicker than scenery. The Moth teaches us not to judge by appearances. It teaches us to listen. It reminds us to empathize"

This is the first time I have heard of The Moth although the organization celebrated its twentieth anniversary this year. The cover and idea of the book sounding intriguing; so, I decided to learn more.

The book itself hooks me from the beginning in the foreword by Neil Gaiman. It states so eloquently an idea that I hold dear. From its beginning, the book reminds me of other favorites - the works of Brandon Stanton and StoryCorps. All these works seek to bring the world together, one story at a time, one person at a time. In the words of Maya Angelou, "We are more alike my friends, than we are unalike." All these works seek to convey this idea.

The Moth returns to the oldest of all storytelling traditions - the oral tradition.  The purpose of the organization, according to its media kit, states, "The Moth celebrates the ability of stories to honor both the diversity and commonality of human experience, and to satisfy a vital human need for connection. It seeks to present recognized storytellers among established and emerging writers,  performers and artists and to encourage storytelling among communities whose stories often go unheard."

The idea began in 1997 in Georgia in the home of novelist and poet George Dawes Green. He brought the idea with him when he moved to New York City. To date, The Moth has had over 26,000 stories told in over 3,500 live events, and the numbers continue to grow every days.

The idea has blossomed and grown with open-mic events around the United States and community, education, and corporate programs. The project has also evolved into a radio broadcast, podcasts, and, now, this book. The book is the first venture to translate this oral storytelling into the written word.

The title of this book, All These Wonders, comes from one of the stories in the book. The larger metaphor is that "we all have moments in life when we are forced off the map. Sometimes it's by choice ... Other times we get shoved there against our will ... But the stories in this book who that when we dare to face the unknown, we usually discover that we have more grit and tenacity than we thought. And we often land in a place that we couldn't even have imagined when we started out."

As is the case with a collection of stories, some touched me more than other because of where I am in my life and my own experiences. The book comprises about 50 stories organized into seven sections. The individual stories run the gamut from light-hearted to heart-breaking. Some storyteller names I recognize, and some are new to me. Each story is only a few pages long with a brief biography of the storyteller and the details of where the story was first told. All leave me with something to ponder. This book is a beautiful glimpse into a fascinating project. I look forward to reading and listening to more.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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