The Moth by Catherine Burns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book of short stories does what I think a great book of short stories should: delivers stories that are truly short (a few pages at most) that offer variety in terms of subject matter, tone, and/or style, while maintaining a singular premise that links them all together. Of course, the singular premise for that serves to link these stories is simple: they were all originally part of the oral tradition that is The Moth. Of course, those oral stories were all told within a time regulated time limit, so that helped to keep them brief. And it's not hard to make the stories different and unique when each one is told by a different author. So the book is, almost by default, the type of collection of short stories I adore.
I would have given this book five stars if it weren't for one glaring flaw: the unnecessary use of "star power." Now, I understand that a lay person who has never heard of The Moth probably won't be enticed by this book at a bookstore until they read "Malcolm Gladwell" or "Darrell 'DMC' McDaniels" or another famous name on the cover. Unfortunately, just because they're famous doesn't mean they can write, and even if they're writers, that doesn't mean they can tell a short story. In my opinion, these "celebrity" authored pieces were the weakest in the collection. However, as a marketer myself, I understand the reasoning behind it--I just don't like it.
My only other gripe is that I had heard at least a third of the stories already, on The Moth podcast. Some of them I reread and enjoyed all over again, but others I skipped, in favor of discovering a new story. This was of course unavoidable--based on how the stories were collected in the first place--but as a reader and a Moth listener, I was slightly put off.
All in all, though, a fantastic book full of stories that were well worth putting to paper.
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