As a result of the sheer force and poignancy of Moore's prose, the inimitable quirks and striking turns of phrase, every so often when graduate school was devouring my soul, I imagined running away to Wisconsin or Vandy to pick her brain and get my MFA, which is even more impractical than my current life plan. This collection, start to finish, is perfect. There's a story for everyone. My personal favorite is "Amahl and the Night Visiors: A Guide to the Tenor of Love" with a close second to "How to Become A Writer." And the final story, "To Fill" always makes me cry.
Moore has a way of dragging her readers and plopping them right in the middle of "drama" which builds catharsis for the readers. Her second person approach, in some stories such as How to be Another Woman, has a way of keeping the character's emotions at bay while proving that the protagonist's inner conflict with such beauty and ease. Moore has a way of capturing the reader within each story, creating an enthralling narrative through each and every one of them. I couldn't put it down and am glad I didn't. I've read several of the stories over and over again.
I'm rather late coming to the fiction of Lorrie Moore but, definitely better late than never. A recent short story by Moore in The New Yorker (from her newly published novel) finally got me into her tailwind that's been in the atmosphere since her first book of short stories, "Self Help," was published in 1985. In some ways, these idiosyncratic stories of the-self-in-transition may even be more timely now in the 21st century than they were in the 80s. I think we as a culture are more ready to see the The Self as a fragmented, ambiguous entity that has to continuously struggle to keep up the facades of the old traditions that, for example, either hobble women or have simply outlived their old definitions.
Moore writes with an intensity and originality about women (and men) grappling with the fallout of postmodernity. It's been said, and sung, that there is a thin line between love and hate and all the relationships in "Self Help" come under the microscope and are found to partake of both. A sense of alienation and melancholy pervades the protagonists of "Self Help" as they are swept along on the vicissitudes of emotions that are never less than complex and laced with the mystery of growing pains and the pains that diminish us as we grow older. Moore writes about mothers, daughters, lovers, husbands, and, ultimately, about women as creative people at the mercy of never-ending stages of transition. If Alice Munro is the great modern classicist of the short story, Moore is the next-generation's candidate for writing of a more experimental nature, mirroring the increasing fragmentation of our world where the biology of women is at right angles to their need for self-expression. These stories do not provide easy closure on the fate of any of the protagonists, but in their courageous free fall and protracted states of inquiry lie their snippets of liberation and moments of epiphany.
So, I read this book slowly through this year, and I must say, it is one of my favorite reads of this year. It's an interesting compilation of short stories that can make you laugh on one page and cry on the next. Well written and well organized. Great book.
What a pleasant surprise in finding Lorrie Moore. I've been reading a lot of female short story writers, particularly Lydia Davis and Lucia Berlin, but the emotional sting of Lorrie Moorr's short fiction really wow'ed me. I can't wait to read more.
Moore captures the little moments in life so perfectly that reading one of her stories feels more like recalling a memory. She uses exaggerated, almost abstract descriptions that are so accurate you've got to remind yourself after that they were her stories and not your own. Each story's wording is so shockingly on point that even though the characters are different in each one, they could easily be chapters out of any real person's life. The book is linked through topics that symbolize a defining human experience, and because of that a wide range of readers will be able to relate. Her approach is incredibly refreshing; I found the tone completely unique while still being so fitting that it was impossible not to be drawn instantly into the world she was creates. This is more than worth the short time it takes to read.