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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bark: Stories

When Lorrie Moore comes out with a new collection, you get it. Because. Her latest is Bark.

A divorced man explores a new relationship only to find that his newly beloved may be mentally ill. A woman loses a friend and is taken to visit her ghost. After twenty years of marriage, a woman goes on one last family vacation in denial over her husband's apathy. A dinner party takes a turn toward malice over politics. A boiled-over musician forms a bond with an elderly neighbor and finds out what she never knew she always wanted. A wedding finds some uninvited guests and some unexpected self-discovery.

These stories all form Bark, which takes on a myriad of meanings you can seek out for yourself because you should grab up this book. I have had a penchant for short stories as of late, and I have discovered the amazement that is Lorrie Moore. (Yes, I am a bit late to the party with famous literary figures.) I was so taken with each and every one of these characters. They all hit me with a different force, some light, some hard. It's difficult to choose a favorite, but I would have to say the first story, "Debarking," is one of them. Discovering Zora's incredibly unhealthy relationship with her son and how off her rocker she really was, all through the eyes of a poor divorcee who happened upon this relationship while in denial over his own divorce and trying to emotionally reach his own young daughter. The story was snappy and witty and smirky; the characters where head-tilting and wild and uneven--and I loved it.

The other story that I would list at the top of my favorites was "Foe," the literary dinner party gone politically awry. A man and his wife are invited to Washington for a literary magazine gala, only to be sat at a table with a lobbyist. While the wife is busy speaking to the people to her right, the husband ends up in a political discussion with the lobbyist who is a Birther and a believer in the current presidential candidate as a terrorist. Sound familiar? It was amazing.

I was very struck by the undercurrent of aging as a theme in these stories. Not aging as in, "Oh, I'm getting old," but rather what happens when we step back and realize that time has gotten away from us. What happens when you are a fully grown adult, no longer able say that you were just finding yourself the way you can get away with in your 20's? Adults deal with adult-like things, and they are crazy and weird; the events that happen as an adult are very meta and often make you think, "Is this for real?" At least, that's my take.

Maybe it turns out that my life is a Lorrie Moore short story?

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

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