Friday, September 1, 2017

Light touch of the Moth

The Moth gatherings are events where a lot of different people tell stories of things that really happened to them. The Moth: All These Wonders was published this year in New York, and it truly lives up to the title.

Some stories are hilarious, and some heartbreaking. All are deep and true and real. There's the terrified Orthodox Jew eating his first non-kosher pizza. The astronomer whose team works for years to have an unmanned spacecraft take close-ups of Pluto, only to find as the critical moment approaches that the aging onboard computer is failing. An Irishman on death row listens to his gaolers discussing payment for his upcoming execution for the murder he didn't commit. A guilty, fearful mother of a baby with Down's syndrome finds solace when a friend reminds her that things are as they are "because...and in spite of us."

While holding down a job as a messenger boy in New York City, a fifteen-year-old Texan teen spends a summer squatting in a mausoleum with an elderly drunken poet whom he admires. A newly married woman is dismayed that her husband shares custody of a dog with his ex, until a Facebook post prompts action. An African former child soldier decides not to reveal his harsh experiences to his adopted family, because he wants to reclaim some of the childhood he missed.

In North Korea, a Korean American teacher finds her students, "easy to love, but impossible to trust." She learns to forego judging them when she realizes the harsh necessities of survival in amid a web of propaganda and lies. A humanitarian worker risks his entire rescue mission when someone persuades him to take extra people. Because he can't make himself abandon the starving children, he creates space on the aircraft by seating emaciated kids on adult laps.

This is a wide-ranging and breathtaking collection of stories you'd never find anywhere else. In Vancouver in May, The Moth featured Carmen Aguirre, one of the city's well-known storytellers.

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