Valerie's Reviews > Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project

Listening Is an Act of Love by Dave Isay
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Jan 31, 2008

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bookshelves: short-stories, non-fiction
Recommended to Valerie by: Barbara
Read in September, 2008

Listening Is an Act of Love is a book of short stories that are filled with slices of everyday life, from normal, everyday people, just like you and me. The only difference between us is that they visited a StoryCorps booth (in New York city or a mobile recording booth) and committed their story to audio CDs. The CDs are then archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Excerpts from their stories (which are in interview format) are played on NPR's Morning Edition. This book is comprised of a selection of those interviews.

Do the stories suffer for being read rather than heard, as was originally intended? Maybe a bit. But they were still powerful enough that I occasionally found myself getting choked up. The first story, in which an impoverished mother goes out of her way to create something special for her daughter (out of basically nothing) was especially touching to me. A section containing two 9/11 stories was also very moving.

The most amazing thing about this book is that the people recounting their stories are often being interviewed by close relatives or friends, which brings a sense of intimacy and openness that might not otherwise occur. I love the end of this one:

William: Well, it was very special for me, Seth. I just loved doing it. And just looking at you and answering you, with your eyes looking into mine and mine into yours, it's just great.
Seth: I love you, Grandpa.
William: Thank you, Seth. I love you, too.


It reminds us of what we should be saying to our loved ones every day.

This review is quickly going the way of a Hallmark special so I'm going to stop here, before I need to get out the tissues. And you should note that the book is not as hokey as my review. It's uplifting, and a good reminder that there's something special about everyone.

***sobs, and signs off ***
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