Celebrating the 20th anniversary of storytelling phenomenon The Moth, 45 unforgettable true stories about risk, courage, and facing the unknown, drawn from the best ever told on their stages
Carefully selected by the creative minds at The Moth, and adapted to the page to preserve the raw energy of live storytelling, All These Wonders features voices both familiar and new. Alongside Meg Wolitzer, John Turturro, Tig Notaro, and Hasan Minhaj, readers will encounter: an astronomer gazing at the surface of Pluto for the first time, an Afghan refugee learning how much her father sacrificed to save their family, a hip-hop star coming to terms with being a “one-hit wonder,” a young female spy risking everything as part of Churchill’s “secret army” during World War II, and more.
High-school student and neuroscientist alike, the storytellers share their ventures into uncharted territory—and how their lives were changed indelibly by what they discovered there. With passion, and humor, they encourage us all to be more open, vulnerable, and alive.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
MY GRANDFATHER’S SHOES
I’m gonna let y’all know now, I’m a preacher’s kid. I grew up in the church. I swear I have only missed, like, two Sundays out of my whole sixteen years of life.
My grandfather, he was a minister. And he was my best friend. He was the person I could talk to about anything and everything.
I’m sixteen now, but when I was ten, I wanted to be the kid who had anything anybody else had. I was the friend that, like, if you got the new video game—I had that video game but also another one . . . that was just about to come out . . . that you ain’t know about.
So one day my friend came outside. He had these ugly, ugly sneakers on.
I was like, “Yo, bro, I got those, man! That ain’t nothing . . . I already got those.”
He was like, “A’ight . . . prove it!”
I didn’t have them.
So my grandfather, being a minister, he gets the money out of the collection plate. And I knew where he put the money.
So I went upstairs, and I took the money. I did. It was like two hundred dollars. And I went on Third Avenue in the Bronx, and I bought the sneakers, and I went home.
I walk in, and my grandfather, he’s going off. He found out the money was missing.
He was screaming at my uncle, “Why would you steal my money?!”
My uncle’s like, “I didn’t touch your money. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I should tell y’all that all the way home walking, I was talking junk.
I’m with my cousin, and I’m like, “Yeah, when my grandpa asks me where I got the sneakers from . . . I’m gonna lie. I’m gonna say I got ’em from you.”
And he’s like, “Ain’t gonna work.”
So I walk in, and my grandpa’s going off . . . and I froze. I was like, Oh . . . he mad.
And he said, “Christian! Come here!”
I was like, “Huh?”
He said, “Where’d you get those sneakers?”
And I was like, “Funny story . . . uh . . . I went in your briefcase and got the money . . . yeah . . .”
He said, “How much money did you take?”
I said, “About two hundred dollars.”
“About two hundred dollars.”
“Boy, are you crazy?! Boy!”
And then he said some very hard words. He said, “I will never be able to trust you again, but one day you are going to repay me for the money you took. I don’t know how, I don’t know when. But you are going to repay me.”
I cried. It was terrible.
Fast-forward a couple of years. I’m a drummer. I played the drums on the radio for Al Sharpton. And he paid me good. And have you ever had that thing where you start thinking about something and your mind goes [claps loudly].
That’s when I was like, I remember Grandpa said I’m gonna repay him.
So I didn’t get McDonald’s for two weeks in a row. And with that, plus my money from drumming, I got the money to pay him back. I put it in an envelope, and I took my grandpa out to dinner at his favorite place: Crown Donut on 161st Street.
At first he was skeptical that I was taking him out.
He said, “You got somebody pregnant?”
I was only thirteen, I don’t know what he was talking about. I was like, “No, of course not! Don’t be absurd.”
So we got our food, and I had on a coat—it was cold; it was early November. And so I took the money out of my side pocket and put it on the table.
I was like, “It’s all there.”
And he looked, and he said, “What’s this?”
I said, “You said you didn’t know how, but I was gonna repay you. And I just repaid you.”
And we started crying and hugging.
He said, “Aw, I love you.”
“I love you, too, Grandpa.”
And I’m just glad that I got the chance to fulfill what my grandfather said, and pay him back and earn his trust back, because he said, “You know what? You surprised me. I’m proud of you. I trust you again.”
And that was the last thing he ever told me, because two weeks after that he died.
I found out he didn’t get to spend the money.
And I was mad at my grandma, because I knew she had the money. I didn’t know what she did with it.
And so a couple of days go by; we made funeral arrangements, I still didn’t know where the money went.
But I went to go view the body, and my grandma, she stopped me, she said, “Chris?”
I said, “Yes, ma’am.”
She said, “You see that suit and them shoes he’s got on?”
I said, “Yes, ma’am.”
She said, “Your money paid for that.”
And the expression on my face was like, What?!
I was so proud that, number one: I got my trust back from my grandpa, and number two, he was stuntin’ in the suit and shoes I bought him.