StoryCorps is an interview project that aims to record and preserve the stories of all types of Americans, from all sorts of backgrounds. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants (!), and these stories are then archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. These interviews are perfect for the radio, and many of them have been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition.
StoryCorps: Animated Shorts takes 10 of these interviews (all only about 3 minutes long) and puts them to animation. My first instinct was that the animation by the Rauch Brothers was corny and super-exaggerated (bulbous noses, big eyes, exaggerated heights of characters), but it took no time to realize that this goofy style (which made me think of 70s educational cartoons) was perfect for the project as the voices of the people interviewed combined with the drawing brings forth characters as varied as the people interviewed.
Admirably, one of StoryCorps’ goals is to record an story about each and every one of the victims of 9/11. Several of these are included on this disc, and pretty much all will make you weep. “John and Joe” is told by the father of two brothers who died in service, one a firefighter, one a policeman. Another, “Always a Family” is told by the ex-wife of a man who worked in an office in the Twin Towers. She was no longer married to him, but remembers him with affection, especially in his role as the father of their children.
Luckily, though, it is not all tears of sadness… there are several very funny interviews included. My favorites included “Miss Devine” where a man remembers, with fear and laughs, his fearsome Sunday school teacher. Another, “No More Questions!”, has a couple of American grandkids interviewing their sassy and lippy Chinese grandmother (you can hear the grandkids laugh in delight whenever she cuts them down).
This half-hour collection is wonderful… As fun and appropriate as the animation is, you almost don’t need it. Pop this disc into your player while cooking or doing something busy in your house. The stories work perfectly by themselves as audio treasures.