Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Ties That Bind

Ties That Bind, is a collection of transcripts from the StoryCorp oral history project. StoryCorp provide a number of different methods for recording the life stories of o'l folks, including a mobile recording studio and a do it yourself option. As you can imagine, the technical details aren't nearly as important as the fact that many of the stories are nothing short of magical. Let's face it, people are amazing, and so are their stories.

I'll be honest, I was a little hesitant about reading these stories when they were originally intended for audio playback. (Yes, I appreciate the iron that many of the books I "read" were actually listened to, and this one book that I should listen to, I read.) But, this is was a library book, so there was zero cost for trying it.

The text format totally works. I was moved by just about every story in the book, with most of them just being a couple of pages long. I'm telling you, this book is Chicken Soup for the Soul (without actually being a Chicken Soup for the Soul®™ book).

Many of these stories are about people forming wonderful relationships, and how powerful these relationships can be. You just can't help but feel like People are Amazing after reading most of these stories (though, many of the stories also show cruel people can be, and people's ability to overcome this cruelty). I know my hope for humanity was increased, as well as my sense that one person can truly have an impact on the world (even if it's only through impacting another person).

One story, between Stefan Lynch and Beth Teper, especially hit a nerve. In it, Lynch talks about how she was effectively raised by a close knit community of gay men (her dad was gay, and the family disowned them). In the early 1980s, one of the men in her community came down with, what they believed to be, a form of skin cancer. Within two months, he was dead. Of course, it wasn't skin cancer, but AIDS, and for the next decade it decimated the adults in her inner circle. When I was growing up, AIDS was a relatively known quantity. People understood how it was transmitted and how to avoid it. But those early days must have been beyond terrifying. It would have truly been horrifying to have people around you dying from a disease of unknown cause and origin. I had never really thought about it that way, and Lych's story put a human face on the disease.

As a collection of quick reading, hope providing stories, this book can't be beat.

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