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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lorrie Moore Returns to Short Stories with Bark

Posted by Alison Hallett on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 11:29 AM

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Lorrie Moore's new story collection Bark came out yesterday, and I stayed up past my bedtime last night reading it. Bark is a return to form for Moore, after her weighty 2010 novel A Gate at the Stairs—I loved Gate, and her short novel Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?, but Moore is best known and loved as one of America's preeminent short-story writers.

Which kind of makes her sound boring—but she isn't.

Most of the stories I read last night are funny, laugh-out-loud funny. Moore's short stories feel longer than they are, because her writing demands that you stop and pay attention to her sentences. See, for example, the opening lines of the story "Paper Losses":

Although Kit and Rafe had met in the peace movement, marching, organizing, making no nukes signs, now they wanted to kill each other. They had become, also, a little pro-nuke.

Or this, about a Jewish man trying to wrap his head around his friend's plan to throw a Lent-themed dinner party:

There were no natural predators in this small, oblivious, and tolerant community, and so strange creatures and creations abounded.

That description applies so excellently to Portland, I can't even stand it. The story, "Debarked," goes on to encompass parenting, war, and depressing late-middle aged sexual encounters. It's funny, but weighty too, and that's why Moore is so great—like Sam Liypstye, she's kind of a literary patron saint for people who process their feelings about the world through humor, even when the world is really, really shitty.

This isn't a review, because I haven't read the whole book—and reviews have been mixed—but I'm enjoying it so far, obviously. And hey look, it's on sale at Powell's!

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