The Moth - book review

I promised her that when she died, that for the rest of my life I was gonna live for her. I mean really live for her - Franny's Last Ride by Mike Destefano. 

In lockdown and during furlough, I've needed new, better routines to help me through the days. One of these was to start every day by sitting with my morning tea and reading, from real books.

I did this before, during another trying period of my life and found it really therapeutic. I set a new routine of reading, before watching any news, looking at social media or checking emails. And it has kept me in better mental shape than expected.

To start this new habit, I downloaded a copy of The Moth from my local library ebook loan service. I'd seen a recommendation for the book by Tim Ferris, downloaded a sample, saw on the cover another solid recommendation by Neil Gaiman, sat and read the first story. Within 10 minutes I was totally hooked.

To try to explain the book doesn't do it justice. The Moth is a collection of short, real stories as told by people from all walks of life. It's based upon stories told at Moth events where the audience paid to simply listen. Imagine someone sitting on the back porch, telling you a strange tale that, as it builds, switches between incredulity, deep agonising pain, joy, heartbreak and often complete surprise. Each story is short, only 5 - 10 minutes to read, but at the end of each I often stopped, paused and wondered what had just happened.

From a priest ending up in a biker bar, an African American lady nursing a dying Klan member, to a New York dancer ending up as a potential concubine to an Arab ruler, this book moves you. Every single story.

The quote up top is from Franny's Last Ride. The late Mike Destefano tells of battling heroin addiction and meeting his soulmate, Franny, in rehab. Franny becomes sick from aids and ends up in a hospice, where she is later kicked out "for living". He purchases his dream motorcycle, a Harley Davidson and tells of Franny's reaction to it. He finishes with the picture of her, terminally ill, holding his waist as they roar through the downtown streets at 80mph, morphine bag flapping in the slipstream. You feel and hear and taste what living means. It's this good.

The Moth is a special, special book, that I fell in love with. One of those books that I was truly sad to finish. Maybe one day, when we can all meet together again, I'll manage to attend an actual live Moth event. I hope so. But until then, the book, and any follow ups will do.

Very highly recommended.


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