Many people are all too familiar with the situation whereupon a huge crush they’ve fostered for some extremely attractive hunkahunkaburninlove turns out to be about as lively and exciting in the sack as a dead fish. A VW bug engine in Ferrari body. Oof! The disappointment is monumental. Such is my experience when one of my absolute favorite podcasts comes out with a book. For years, I’ve listened to THE MOTH radio hour and really enjoyed the off-the-cuff stories from regular and irregular people about significant events and people in their lives. I’ve even attended live performances of THE MOTH and walked away thrilled as a clam (yes, clams have a rep for being really thrilled all the time).
Just to surmise, THE MOTH is a podcast where people stand on stage and tell stories. It’s about as simple as that, with one exception: to get on the show, storytellers are helped by a group of professionals to hone and polish their story a bit in order to make it more presentable and entertaining. This doesn’t mean the stories are falsified or anything. In fact, it’s a wonderful process that makes a better experience for the listener.
So, after umpteen years of this process, THE MOTH producers decided to publish a book about how to tell a story, entitled appropriately enough, “How to Tell a Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling”. The book was announced months ago and I pre-purchased the audible version, because it’s THE MOTH and what better way to learn about audible storytelling than through an audible book? Man
, was I excited (see: super-hot potential paramour in the bar).
Geez, what a HUGE letdown. Granted, chapters 3 and 4 are actually quite good and instructional, but the remainder of the book is chock full of the history of THE MOTH and accolades about how wonderful storytelling can be and the magic of storytelling and how we’re all connected via storytelling and (did we mention) how wonderful storytelling can be. The book falls to pieces under it’s own self-absorption. For listeners (readers) expecting a nice, direct instruction on what the title of the book actually states, you’ll be very disappointed – save for the aforementioned chapters 3 and 4. Yes, the instruction was very good, but the tedium of having to endure the bucketfuls of sincere gloriousness of storytelling described by THE MOTH hosts and producers is suffocating, to say the least. Yes, we know THE MOTH is great and has done wonderful things. Yes, we know storytelling is great, but can we just move on, please?!
Honestly, the reader/consumer who reads or listens to the book is already in the choir, there’s really no reason to evangelize to them about the greatness, wonderfulness, depth of being, group-hug-ness and ethereal amazingness of storytelling. Just cut to the freaking chase! Ironically, the authors of the book really could benefit from their own lessons about storytelling: keep it concise, make sure the variables contribute to the arc of the story and eliminate excessive excessiveness.