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Lorrie Moore

Grief and love in America are the subjects of Lorrie Moore’s new novel, which is part surreal road trip, part love story, and partly made of letters from a woman to her late sibling. Finn, a school teacher suspended for some of his unorthodox ideas about history, attends the bedside of his dying brother, Max, but is then drawn away by his fatal attraction to a suicidal ex-lover, Lily, right around the time of the 2016 election. His story is interspersed with letters written by Elizabeth, an innkeeper, to her dead sister in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Clever, cranky, bitter, and witty, Elizabeth describes herself as ‘unreconciled to just about everything’. The two parts of the narrative are themselves unreconciled, mostly; the connections between them remain oblique, with a lot of space for the reader to imagine different points of association.

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It saddens me to say it, but Lorrie Moore’s first collection of non-fiction is a serious disappointment. Having long admired her astonishing fiction, I came to this new book expecting to find obscure essays and little-known gems from across Moore’s long career ...

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Bark by Lorrie Moore

August 2014, no. 363

In Bark’s second story, ‘The Juniper Tree’, an unnamed narrator sings ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ with calculated slowness to alter ‘not just the attitude of the song but the actual punctuation, turning it into a protest and question’. Lorrie Moore’s writing career to date strikes a similar counterbalance between form and content: irrepressible linguistic exuberance tempers – and sometimes even succeeds in confuting – an essentially saturnine world view.

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