2002-10-31 / Arts & Entertainment


Fascinating Personal Stories
Gathered In One Volume
Reviewed by E.B. Waddell

Fascinating Personal Stories Gathered In One Volume

Reviewed by E.B. Waddell

©2002 King Features Synd., Inc.

If you picked a true story to share with the world, what would it be?

In 1999, author Paul Auster posed this question to the American public on the National Public Radio program "All Things Considered." He received more than 4,000 responses, and the majority of them were pretty darn fascinating. Auster picked the best of the lot to read on the weekly radio segment, but many worthy submissions had to be left by the wayside. Eventually, Auster decided, there would have to be a book.

This, "I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales From NPR’s National Story Project," edited and produced by Paul Auster (Picador USA, $15), is that book. It contains 179 of the very best stories — some appeared on the radio program while others make their first public appearance. Divided into categories like Love, Death and Animals, they are full of amazing coincidences, hilarious observations and touching memories. They are funny, disturbing and just plain odd. They are all glimpses into the lives of others, experiences that each one felt compelled to share.

Most of us are not professional photographers. But those blurry, off-center photographs of our loved ones still mean more to us than the most priceless works of art. Likewise, these stories were not selected for literary merit or style. It is just a book of stories, the kind you might hear around the table at a dinner party, the kind that might be passed down through a family, and some that are just there, ready to be taken as you will. But each one means quite a lot to someone, somewhere.

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