Lorrie Moore, after many years as a professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is now Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. Moore has received honors for her work, among them the Irish Times International Prize for Literature and a Lannan Foundation fellowship, as well as the PEN/Malamud Award and the Rea Award for her achievement in the short story. Her novel A Gate at the Stairs was shortlisted for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction and for the PEN/Faulkner Award.
Though the characters in these 12 stories are seen in such varied settings as Iowa, Ireland, Maryland, Louisiana and Italy, they are all afflicted with ennui, angst and aimlessness. They can't communicate or connect; they have no inner resources; they can't focus; they can't feel love. The beginning stories deal with women alienated from their own true natures but still living in the quotidian. Aileen in "Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens," is unable to stop grieving over her dog's death, although she has a loving husband and daughter to console her. The collection's two male protagonists, a law professor in "Beautiful Grade" and a housepainter who lives with a blind man in "What You Want to Do Fine," are just as disaffected and lonely in domestic situations. The stories move on, however, to situations in which life itself is askew, where a tumor grows in a baby's body (the detached recitation of "People Like That Are The Only People Here" makes it even more harrowing ). In "Real Estate," a woman with cancer‘after having dealt with squirrels, bats, geese, crows and a hippie intruder in her new house‘kills a thief whose mind has run as amok as the cells in her body. Only a few stories conclude with tentative affirmation. "Terrific Mother," which begins with the tragedy of a child's death, moves to a redemptive ending. In every story, Moore empowers her characters with wit, allowing their thoughts and conversation to sparkle with wordplay, sarcastic banter and idioms used with startling originality. No matter how chaotic their lives, their minds still operate at quip speed; the emotional impact of their inner desolation is expressed in gallows humor. Moore's insights into the springs of human conduct, her ability to catch the moment that flips someone from eccentric to unmoored, endow her work with a heartbreaking resonance. Strange birds, these characters might be, but they are present everywhere. Editor, Victoria Wilson; agent, Melanie Jackson.(Sept.)
Stories from the very popular Moore.
"A nest of tales that captures the eternal, hummingbird flutter of the human heart. . . . A volume in which everything comes together: the author's mordant, Dorothy Parker wit, the Joycean epiphanies, the Flannery O'Connor-esque moments of clarity and grace." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution "These new stories sparkle; they are keenly and poignantly mindful of the idioms, banalities and canards of contemporary American society, and they hum with Moore's earmark droll and incisive banter, her astonishing ability to render the intricacy of character in a few sharply focused details." --Houston Chronicle "Cements [Moore's] reputation as one of our finest writers of fiction." --Austin American-Statesman "Lorrie Moore has made laughingstocks of all of us. And we're devotedly, blissfully grateful. . . . Moore . . . packs more rambunctious American humor and worldly-wide melancholy into a story than many lesser writers can into an entire novel." --Newsday "[Moore] uses language to create a kind of carbonated prose: sentences with pop and fizz, with an effervescence of imagination that continually surprises." --The Dallas Morning News "Bats, flamingos, crows, performing ducks and bird feeders crop up in every story, but the real subject is human nature and the myriad ways Moore's characters flock together or fly apart in the face of change, stasis or grief. . . . Gorgeous. . . . Rarely has a writer achieved such consistency, humor and compassion." --Seattle Post-Intelligencer "[Moore's] dialogue snaps with fun. . . . One could be trapped in an elevator with people like Moore's men, or especially her women, and feel the luckier for it." --San Francisco Chronicle "Remains one of the . . . best volumes of stories that any American has published in recent decades." --Bookforum "I hesitate to lay the adjective wise on one of [Moore's] age. But watching a writer move into full maturity is always exciting. Flappy-winged take-off is fun; but the sight of an artist soaring lifts the heart." --Julian Barnes, The New York Review of Books "Written beautifully, flawlessly, carefully, with a trademark gift for the darkly comic and the perfectly observed. . . . Thrilling." --Esquire "Moore peers into America's loneliest perches, but her delicate touch turns absurdity into a warming vitality." --The New Yorker "I've long been an admirer of Lorrie Moore; her Birds of America is an exquisite collection of stories by a writer at the peak of her form." --Geoff Dyer, The Independent "Moore is blessed with such astonishing, unbridled inventiveness she leaves the rest of us hamstrung mortals blinking in the dust. . . . Moore writes like a force of nature." --Seattle Times "Memorable and absorbing." --The Wall Street Journal "These stories . . . are revelations of insight, the perception of the daily traumas of modern existence raised to ironic levels that tell us who we really are." --Richmond Times-Dispatch "Moore is the quintessential short-story writer. There is not a word wasted--her every observation is burnished with humor and sadness." --Marie Claire "Terrific." --Time Out New York "Exquisite. . . . Come across these lines in the presence of another human being, and just try to resist reading them aloud." --San Diego Union-Tribune "Brilliant." --Bookreporter "A fine collection. . . . The reader will be forever susceptible to seeing absurdity everywhere." --Chicago Tribune "The sleight of hand that goes on within a Lorrie Moore story is one of supreme subtlety and wit. . . . By turns laugh-out-loud funny and poignantly sad." --Detroit Free Press "One of the best short story collections of the '90s." --PopMatters "Firece, heart-wrenching. . . . One of the most remarkable short works published in recent decades, it's unforgettable and great." --Philadelphia Tribune