Summer Reading Project: Lorrie Moore

I sometimes pick a reading project for a holiday, meaning that I try to cover the entire works of the chosen author. Sometimes I manage within the timeframe I have, often not (also depending on the author: I would not attempt Joyce Carol Oates or Margaret Atwood in three to four weeks). This summer it was Lorrie Moore.

In all honesty I had not really hear about her until very early this summer, when a totally random instagram post about her caught my attention. After some googling I swiftly proceeded to place an order for most of her works, and set about the project.

Moore is an American fiction writer best known for her short stories and her humorous style. In addition to novels and short stories she contributes widely to major US papers and magazines, covering book reviews and commentary about current affairs.

I have never been a particular fan of short stories, because they often don’t provide the sufficient amount of escapism and possibilities to totally submerge into a properly lovely piece of fiction. Lately I’ve read more short stories, probably because I have had trouble concentrating and focusing. Moore’s pieces seemed to suit the current anxious mood perfectly.

The blurbs on many of the book sleeves said she’s “masterfully in charge of her sentences”, which at first look seemed like a weird statement to make about an author, but after reading her texts totally made sense. She moves her text impeccably, and every so often an unexpected element appears, usually adding a (dry) humorous twist.

Of her novels I liked A Gate at the Stairs the best, probably because of its more contemporary context (despite the novel dating post-9/11). While it’s supposed to be more of a coming-of-age story, all characters are well developed and the storyline interesting built.

For a Lorrie Moore –beginner I would recommend the short story collection called Self-Help, which is absolutely hilarious. The collection is sort of a guide for female existence with humorous and sometimes awkward/heartbreaking, but mainly extremely funny stories about topics such as how to be the other woman, how to deal with divorce, getting cancer or how to become a writer.

The latest collection See What Can be Done contains some of Moore’s earlier essays, but also commentary and criticism on more recent affairs, such as thoughts on Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton in 2016, Lena Dunham, Helen Gurley Brown and Homeland.

Nothing absolutely unforgettable, but thoroughly entertaining pieces. If you only have time for one, read A Gate at the Stairs. And Self-Help.

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