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Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project (Penguin Books for English: Developmental) Paperback – October 28, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Four years ago. StoryCorps set out to record an oral history of America with the voices of everyday people. This book is a collection of the most compelling excerpts from more than 10,000 interviews recorded, compiled by StoryCorps founder Isay (Flophouse), a radio documentary producer and MacArthur fellow. And they are compelling. Each one captures a moment in time—historical, emotional or personal—that make us who we are. As simple stories of humanity, each one has its own potency, with themes of family, love, dedication and struggle. In one of the most emotionally wrought stories, a father sits down with his daughter and remembers her late mother and older brother, who both died of cancer within months of each other. To gather the stories, StoryCorps provides a facility, recording equipment and a facilitator, then waits for people to invite loved ones, friends, grandparents to sit down for a 40-minute session. A copy of the tape is filed in the Library of Congress, and parts have aired on NPR. As Isay says, I realized how many people among us feel completely invisible, believe their lives don't matter, and fear they'll someday be forgotten. Photos. (Nov. 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
“Each interview is a revelation.”—USA Today
“As heartwarming as a holiday pumpkin pie and every bit as homey . . . what emerges in these compelling pages is hard-won wisdom and boundless humanity.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Top customer reviews
This book represents a selection of the submissions so far, and the majority of the stories are truly moving. It's divided into five broad sections:
Home and Family
Work and Dedication
History and Struggle
Fire and Water (stories related to the attacks of September 11th and to Hurricane Katrina)
With the exception of those in the first section, the stories are universally powerful and moving, with over 10,000 to choose from, the editor has done a fine job in selecting the best. For me, the 'home and family' stories fell oddly flat, though this just may be an inability to match the power of some of the later contributions.
One could think of this as an oral version of the other NPR Story Project, stories from which are collected in the (awesome) book "I Thought My Father was God", which also deserves a 5-star rating. The stories in "Listening is an Act of Love" match those in that book in their capacity to move the reader. Although I did find the first section of this book to be somewhat weaker than the remaining four sections, it still deserves a 5-star rating.
The success of this venture is an interesting contrast with what I (in a clear minority) considered to be the weakness of the 'This I Believe' collection, which I also reviewed recently. It's interesting to me that two undertakings, which are fairly similar on the surface, should give such disparate results. What psychologists and social science researchers tell us does appear to be true - it really matters how you ask the questions...
I can relate to a lot of the stories which makes them even more interesting. Thanks so much!
These interviews are of ordinary people, living ordinary lives, but each of them has a unique and wonderful story. I'm going to keep this book on my desk to remind me everyday that what appears to be ordinary is anything but.