Top positive review
The Teller and the Tale
on 9 January 2017
The Moth is a storytelling platform and this volume collects 50 diverse pieces by these writers/orators. There is an oratory element to each of these tales that gives an immediacy and rawness without the polish of a written story, and rightly so because they all originated from standup storytelling sessions.
In Neil Gaiman's introduction, he explains one of the basic tenets of the Moth: "Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at the moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything."
Each storyteller chooses a moment in their own lives as basis for the content of their stories and they tell it as it is; except that they don't. These are stories, not fact. And being honest and "leaving out things you don't need" is not the same as not embellishing them with your own perspective, distorting accounts to highlight or tune out aspects of the situation accordingly. And that's what makes this collection enjoyable. You develop a relationship with each storyteller in those few moments that you listen to (or in this case, read) his or her tale, empathising, being wowed by, and at the same time learning more about the teller, because his or her personality inevitably slips through. Whether it is the high class socialite who tells about her trysts with the Brunei prince and his brother in his harem unabashedly, the junkie who falls in love with a fellow rehab patient who was suffering from AIDS and finds a moment of grace that he is forever unable to repeat, or the death row inmate who was wrongfully accused and spent eighteen years in prison, they all have a confession or some learning to share.
Some stories work well, and some not as well, but what is captivating about them all is the way they appropriate the feeling of a campfire sharing session, and whether you are totally engrossed by the story or distracted by your burning marshmallow, you feel the warmth of the fire and the intimacy of the baring of souls.