Heartfelt stories bear eloquent witness to hopes, dreams, and triumphs.
Storytelling—in theaters, on a podcast, and on a weekly public radio show—is the mission of the nonprofit organization The Moth. From the thousands of stories shared since its founding in 1997, editor Burns (The Moth Presents All These Wonders, 2017, etc.), the organization’s artistic director, offers selections from an international roster of presenters. Some storytellers may be familiar to readers: Singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash reflects on feeling anxious and disoriented after moving to New York with her children after her divorce. On a similar theme, New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik considers how his daughter’s imaginary friend taught him what he really wanted from living in Manhattan. Psychologist and memoirist Andrew Solomon writes about starting his own “post-nuclear family” with his husband despite “complicated and difficult and elaborate circumstances.” Emmy-winning performer Faith Salie relates her obsessive search for the perfect dress to wear to divorce court. Most voices are new, imparting intimate, moving anecdotes about life, love, friendship, parenthood, and identity. Several presenters disclose the tensions over coming out as gay, dealing with poverty and homelessness, or confronting others’ perceptions of oneself as different. Undergraduate Aleeza Kazmi, of Afghan and Pakistani heritage, proclaims that she has “worked so hard to love the skin I’m in, and nothing anyone says can take that away from me.” Activist Barbara Collins Bowie recalls growing up in Mississippi during Jim Crow, when her mother’s health crisis made her realize that the civil rights movement was “a fight for life and death.” Mary Theresa Archbold, who stealthily hid her prosthetic arm from friends and roommates, writes of the challenges of being a one-armed mother of an infant. British polar explorer Ann Daniels, mother of triplets, risked her life in defiantly trekking to the North and South Poles. Vietnamese engineer Jason Trieu tells the wrenching story of escaping from South Vietnam two weeks before the region fell to the North, one of several tales of resilience and determination in the face of terror.
Captivating, artfully wrought tales.