I Thought My Father Was God
and Other True Tales From NPR's National Story Project
Edited and Introduced by Paul Auster
In Association with NPR's Weekend All Things Considered
Published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC
0-3124-2100-1 (trade Paperback)
Culled from over four-thousand letters, emails and faxes sent in to All Things Considered's National Story Project, this collection of 180 stories spans every demographic in the country giving a sort of countrywide snapshot that attempts to capture the essence of the American experience. The book is built into sections with stories corresponding appropriately: Animals, Objects, Families, Slapstick, Strangers, War, Love, Death, Dreams and Meditations.
It's extremely intellectual bathroom reading, really.
That being said, it's hard to know what to make of this book - on the one hand, personal narratives are what I'm all about; it's stories and narrative that keep a civilization going, that keeps it breathing. And on the other hand...well, I kept getting the feeling that I'd heard these stories before, and indeed I had - everywhere. Every cheap novel, every episode of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not", every third-rate production of Hamlet. The only thing truly original about the stories are the voices behind them and that alone makes it worth flipping through. It's not about the plots (the stories are so short it's difficult for them to include anything BUT plots) so much as it's about the details surrounding the plots - the feel of a dockyard in 1944 or the view from the top of a bridge. It's an excellent portrait of american life, just don't take it too seriously - ignore the implications behind what Paul Auster and co. tell you the book is about and listen to the words; you won't be disappointed.