I don’t typically review memoirs, simply because for the most part, I don’t see the point in it. If it’s about someone you like, chances are you’ll like the book. And if you don’t like the person the memoir’s about…well, then you’re probably not even going to read it.
And honestly, I picked up The Storyteller at the airport just so I could have something to pass the time while I was being hurtled in the air toward…I don’t even remember where I was going at this point. But, with all due respect to Dave Grohl (he of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame), his memoir was supposed to be little more than a throwaway read.
Little did I realize this was the exact book I needed, right when I needed it.
Unlike Grohl, I don’t have a musical bone in my body. I enjoy music, but I can’t create it. But one thing Grohl and I have in common is this deep, existential need to create. Whereas his canvas is a drum kit or a recording studio, mine is the word processor. Everything music is to Grohl, writing is for me. Only I had lost sight of that of late.
Taking this journey with Grohl, from his suburban Virginia childhood all the way through the whirlwind of rock stardom, tragedy, and eventual fatherhood, served as a stark reminder–not just about the importance of not denying your truth, but the value of courage, of taking that chance that frightens you, of looking at the world and deciding you’re going to do the thing you do, regardless of what anyone else says or thinks.
“Courage is a defining actor in the life of any artist,” Grohl writes in one of the book’s most poignant passages. And while he speaks specifically of music–his art form of choice–the same truths can be applied to any creative discipline.
At the end of the day, my own creative struggles are indicative of a lack of courage. The Storyteller, without Grohl even realizing it, has gotten me back on the path to my own creative freedom. Finding my courage again: courage to tell my stories, to tell them loudly, and to tell people about them once they’re out in the world.
There is a charmed-life aspect to Grohl’s memoir; more than once, he happens to be at the right place and the right time, and more than once, I flipped the pages with a dopey, “Wait-you-know-so-and-so?” grin on my face. But even those instances boil down to Grohl’s creative urges and his courage and follow them.
Which is why The Storyteller is a book I’m glad I read. It came about just when I needed it most.
The Storyteller is available in ebook, hardcover, and audiobook.