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The patterns of story making; the connection of a listening audience

I can quote no better description of The Moth than Neil Gaiman’s introduction to these performed narrations

The Moth connects us, as humans. Because we all have stories. Or perhaps, because we are, as humans, 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 colour, gender, race, or attitudes, but we don’t see, we can’t see, the stories. And once we hear each other’s stories we realise 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 MothThe Moth, an American phenomenon – but, o blessed be, due to arrive in the UK this year, is a collection of true story tellings by hundreds of people, which later became broadcast on radio, and has here been collected into a book of 50 of them. Some of the contributors are already in the public eye, as writers, performers, luminaries of one kind or another. But some of them are ‘just ordinary people with extraordinary, ordinary lives. I must admit it was these I found more fascinating.

Inevitably, in appearing ‘in public’ we all, to a greater or lesser extent assume a polished persona. And those most used to this will have a slicker and more professional persona to more easily assume. Sure, each storyteller gets helped, directed, coached to an extent in delivering their story with spellbind and style, but those who do this with less frequency are more likely to let us see the raw of them.

This is a most interesting book of events and lives and viewpoints to read, but I found myself aching for what I could not have – the live presence of these storytellers, their voices, speech patterns, gestures, – to experience the narration in the presence of other listeners.

Photographs by Michael Falco for The New York Times, 2009 Moth Event  at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Photographs by Michael Falco for The New York Times, 2009 Moth Event
at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Reading is primarily a solitary, interior experience – but this sort of storytelling needs the audience and the storyteller to be wrapped together.

I assume this book will introduce those unfamiliar with ‘The Moth – This Is A True Story’ to the concept itself, and create an audience for the live experience.

Make no mistake, these are fascinating and enjoyable, moving and amusing. Live, they must be mesmeric, sensational, cohesive and exhilarating to hear.

As the Moth Editor and Artistic Director, Catherine Burns, reminds us

As a society, we have forgotten how to listen deeply. Each Moth evening is a chance to practice listening, to find connection with your neighbours. And while that intimacy might feel terrifying at first, it’s vital. It’s what will save us

I received this as a review copy from Amazon Vine UK

The Moth Amazon UK
The Moth Amazon USA