Everybody has a story to tell and if Dave Isay has his way, everybody will get a chance to tell their story. Isay is the founder of StoryCorps, the largest oral history project in the nation, and editor of Listening is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life From the Storycorps Project (Penguin, 284 pages, $24.95)...
Anyone who makes an appointment can participate in the StoryCorps project. You bring along someone you'd like to interview, or go yourself and be interviewed by a facilitator. And you talk for 40 minutes. At the end of the interview, you get a CD with your recorded story and another CD goes into an archive at the Library of Congress. Some are played on NPR's Morning Edition.
Isay's book includes excerpts chosen from more than 10,000 interviews recorded in booths at Grand Central Station and Ground Zero in New York, plus mobile booths that tour the country. The stories come from all walks of life and all 50 states. Some of the more memorable ones include a woman remembering her brother, who died of AIDS; a 28-year-old man interviewing his birth mother; a Gulf coast Katrina survivor who watched his entire family perish in the hurricane; and a couple of married elementary school teachers recalling their courtship.
What you get with this remarkable collection is real people telling ordinary stories, which turn out to be pretty extraordinary. This book, along with an appointment to sit in the StoryCorps booth with a loved one, would make an excellent holiday gift.
For more information on StoryCorps: www.storycorps.net.