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Joel

Lorrie Moore

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How great is Lorrie Moore? Planning to see her at a literary festival here in Vancouver in October, and am rereading Birds of America. I can't be the only Lorrie Moore fan here. How about a thread for Moore one-liners? I'll start.

"Pre-cancer? Isn't that, like, life?"

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"I read Derrida. I read Lacan. I read "Reading Lacan". I read "Reading 'Reading Lacan'"--and that's when I applied to library school."

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"I'm going to marry you, whether you like it or not. I'm going to marry you till you puke."

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"How to Be a Writer"

First try to be something, anything, else.

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"How to Be a Writer"
First try to be something, anything, else.

ha! great!

"That was what she'd become: a woman alone at the movies with everything in a Baggie."

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Sadly, her Vancouver appearance is sold out, but I'm looking forward to reading her new novel.

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I've been meaning to post about A Gate at the Stairs, which I finished a few weeks ago and think may be the best novel I've read since Gilead. I thought it was the equal of Robinson's book until around the midway point, when the narrative went in several directions I didn't expect. I'm not sure what to make of those plot threads. Ron Charles expressed some ambivalence about them in an otherwise rave review, if I'm interpreting it correctly. (Hey, he says Moore's book "made me imagine Marilynne Robinson doing stand-up"!)

I felt well fed when the book ended. In the weeks since finishing it, I can't say it's grown greater in my memory, but neither has it diminished.

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On the day I posted the above message, the Atlantic showed with this capsule review of A Gate at the Stairs:

This highly praised and widely anticipated bildungsroman has an undisciplined plot—it’s set after 9/11, so why not throw in a terrorist boyfriend (people aren’t always what they seem, get it?)—contrived situations (what prospective adoptive mother would want her prospective college-girl nanny to accompany her on interviews with birth mothers?), and many brilliantly tedious pages intended to show that people are tedious when talking about racism or about their feelings when their boyfriends ditch them. Perhaps Moore means to suggest that much of life does, in fact, hover on the edge of the surreal: Who can believe the terrible things that happen? Moore deploys her justly celebrated wit relentlessly, to an effect that is sometimes exhilarating, often entertaining, and more than occasionally irritating; but the wordplay also continually reminds the reader that the world on the page is not real. Still, the sense of irredeemable loss at the end is true enough and persistent. This is not a great novel, but it has pieces of one.

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Look at that, wouldja: A Gate at the Stairs has been nominated for the Penn/Faulkner Award.

The other nominees:

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna (Harper)

Lorraine M. Lopez, Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories (BkMk Press)

Sherman Alexie, War Dances (Grove Press)

Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor (Doubleday)

I am completely unfamiliar with all but the Kingsolver, which I haven't read.

Edited by Christian

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Look at that, wouldja: A Gate at the Stairs has been nominated for the Penn/Faulkner Award.

The other nominees:

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna (Harper)

Lorraine M. Lopez, Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories (BkMk Press)

Sherman Alexie, War Dances (Grove Press)

Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor (Doubleday)

I am completely unfamiliar with all but the Kingsolver, which I haven't read.

That reminds me, I really need to read that Alexie collection. He's been one of my favorite contemporary authors since I was in high school, and he has been on fire lately.

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Look at that, wouldja: A Gate at the Stairs has been nominated for the Penn/Faulkner Award.

The other nominees:

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna (Harper)

Lorraine M. Lopez, Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories (BkMk Press)

Sherman Alexie, War Dances (Grove Press)

Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor (Doubleday)

I am completely unfamiliar with all but the Kingsolver, which I haven't read.

That reminds me, I really need to read that Alexie collection. He's been one of my favorite contemporary authors since I was in high school, and he has been on fire lately.

Isn't he the guy who denied Sara Zarr her National Book Award? :) And now he's defeated Lorrie Moore!

Sherman Alexie, below, was named the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction on Tuesday for “War Dances,” a collection of stories and poems. Mr. Alexie’s book, along with books by the other finalists, Barbara Kingsolver, Lorraine M. López, Lorrie Moore and Colson Whitehead, was selected from about 350 novels and short story collections published by American authors in 2009. Mr. Alexie, who also won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2007 for “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” will receive $15,000 from the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.

So, I guess I should read Alexie? :)

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I think I'm about half an hour away from finishing a Gate at the Stairs, and I am realizing that I love Moore's short stories but not her novels. Who Will Run the Frog Hospital was not all that memorable for me and while I have enjoyed a lot of this novel, the twists and turns haven't felt real to me. Moore is a great sprinter, but just a good long-distance runner.

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I'm reading Self-Help for one of my grad school classes. I haven't really liked most of the 2nd person stories (which she's known for, apparently), but the other ones are really good.

"You love once. Even when you do it over and over again it is the same once."

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Moore's hilarious titles of scholarly articles about Flannery O'Conner (from Birds of America):

"A Good Man Really IS Hard To Find"

"Everything That Rises MUST INDEED Converge"

"The Totemic South: The Violent ACTUALLY DO Bear It Away"

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From Bark (anyone? Just started it and love it so far):

 

With Marilyn he had taken the other approach and played hard to get, which had turned their relationship into a never-ending Sadie Hawkins Day, with subsequent marriage to Sadie an inevitably doomed thing --- a humiliating and interminable Dutch date.

 

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