The Moth
Catherine Burns, ed.
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Buy *The Moth: 50 True Stories* by Catherine Burnso nline

The Moth: 50 True Stories
Catherine Burns, editor
Hachette Books
432 pages
September 2013
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The fifty true stories in The Moth: 50 True Stories were originally heard on public radio. The narrators are men, women, and transgendered, the unknown, the famous and the infamous, folks who have been very rich or very poor, people from perfect families, broken families, and adoptive or restored families. They include a female poker player, a rap singer, writers, geneticists, psychologists, astronauts.

These short biographical stories range from confessional to comedic, but they all relate some dramatic (or not-so-dramatic) life-changing moment in the lives of the speakers. The life events are told by good storytellers, and because they are transcribed from oral podcasts, they effectively communicate the small and great moments which are meaningful to both the hearer and the listener.

The brief narratives are placed under the following categories:

  • Innocents Abroad
  • In the Trenches
  • Coming Home
  • Generations
  • Shot Through the Heart
  • Carpe Diem, and
  • Save Me.

A listing of dates, locations, and original performances of the stories follow then the acknowledgments. The stories are of real people, so itís probable that not all of them will be equally liked by all readers. Some stories might offend the legalistic or might offend the non-religious. But the humanity of all the stories shine through. The stories are serious, brave, heartfelt and often intimate. There is no posing, no extreme writerliness (as one might find in something like the Chicken Soup books)--just people talking in their own words in their own style about their own lives. Some favorites:

  • "Notes on an Exorcism" by Andrew Solomon
  • "The Prince and I" by Jillian Lauren
  • "Mission to India" by Dr George Lombardi, a description about the strange encounter that took him to India to care for Mother Theresa
  • "Her Way" by Malcolm Gladwell, about the loss of a friendship
  • "LOL" by Adam Gopnik, about inter-generational communication in the age of cyberspace
  • "A View of the Earth" by Michael Massimino, about a space walk and repairing the Hubble Telescope
  • "The Mug Shot" by Steve Osborne, a narrative which has a surprise ending which this reviewer will not spoil for future readers
  • "The House that Sherman Didnít Burn" by George Dawes Green, about family heritage
  • "Donít Fall in Love with Your Monkey" by Ari Handel, about experimentation with primates, and
  • "The Big Things You Donít Do" by Annie Duke, which is probably my favorite in the entire collection.

This is an easy, often uplifting and inspiring read.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Carole McDonnell, 2014

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