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The Family That Slays Together

Deborah Friedell: Lorrie Moore

19 November 2009
A Gate at the Stairs 
by Lorrie Moore.
Faber, 322 pp., £16.99, October 2009, 978 0 571 19530 5
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... you’re the one who kills your kid, in madness or by accident. The abyss is deeper than you knew. Lorrie Moore’s new novel is her first in 15 years and thematically her most ambitious. Her characters are affected by racism, 9/11, the military, jihadism, global warming, the internet, farming and food culture, adoption laws, sex and academia – but all ...

Angry Duck

Jenny Turner: Lorrie Moore

5 June 2008
The Collected Stories 
by Lorrie Moore.
Faber, 656 pp., £20, May 2008, 978 0 571 23934 4
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... Once upon a time, as Lorrie Moore begins, ‘there was a not terribly prolific American short-story writer who, caught ten years between books with things she called Life and others called Excuses, was asked to write an introduction to her own Collected Stories.’ Moore has not published a book since Birds of America in 1998; among much else, Birds of America contains a biting, unresolved debate about the point of writing fiction ...

A Predilection for the Zinger

Rebecca Mead: Lorrie Moore

10 December 1998
Birds of America 
by Lorrie Moore.
Faber, 291 pp., £9.99, November 1998, 0 571 19529 6
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... television shows. But that is what happened in January 1997, when the New Yorker published Lorrie Moore’s short story, ‘People like that Are the Only People Here’. What was so powerful about this story? The subject-matter, in the first place, was irresistibly painful. It concerns a mother, never named, who finds a blood clot while changing ...

Eat grass

Jenny Turner: The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

15 July 1999
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing 
by Melissa Bank.
Viking, 274 pp., £9.99, July 1999, 9780670883004
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... Fishing is Melissa Bank’s first book. It comes to Britain from America, where it was compared to Lorrie Moore and Friends and Bridget Jones and Ally McBeal. In other words, a collection of seven carefully crafted literary short stories is being compared – Lorrie Moore apart – to two television sitcoms and a ...

A Sad and Gory Land

Claudia Johnson

23 February 1995
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? 
by Lorrie Moore.
Faber, 148 pp., £14.99, November 1994, 0 571 17310 1
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... rough passage into adulthood stay singular, and may be forgiven, but rarely remembered or loved. Lorrie Moore’s Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?, her best work to date, is an intelligent coming-of-age story whose power stems partly from its indifference to the expectation that teenage girls be either deferent or boy-crazy. Beginning in Paris, where the ...

A Kind of Gnawing Offness

David Haglund: Tao Lin

21 October 2010
Richard Yates 
by Tao Lin.
Melville House, 206 pp., £10.99, October 2010, 978 1 935554 15 8
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... as straightforwardly as David Foster Wallace uses X and Y in ‘Octet #6’, for example, or as Lorrie Moore uses Mother and Baby in ‘People like That Are the Only People Here’. Jonathan Lethem has said that ‘strange character names are an easy way to make sure the reader feels, at the deepest level, they’re entering a propositional space where ...

On the Sofa

Lidija Haas: ‘Girls’

8 November 2012
... started in the UK on Sky Atlantic, was nominated for five Emmys and made much of by everyone from Lorrie Moore to Michael Bloomberg. Before this, 26-year-old Dunham had made short films, web comedy series and two movies – the best and best-known thing she’s done so far is the movie Tiny Furniture – in which she also plays women her own ...

The Rear-View Mirror

Michael Hofmann

31 October 1996
The End of the Story 
by Lydia Davis.
Serpent’s Tail, 231 pp., £8.99, October 1996, 1 85242 420 6
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Break it Down 
by Lydia Davis.
Serpent’s Tail, 177 pp., £8.99, October 1996, 1 85242 421 4
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... I think.’ This is not survivor’s humour – in the line of resistance from Dorothy Parker to Lorrie Moore – which seeks finally to claim health and deny pain. Davis’s fussy drone is never funny like that, but she never stops being funny either. When the young man tears through the great books only to become ‘indignant’ at their failings, she ...

No Dancing, No Music

Alex Clark: New Puritans

2 November 2000
All Hail the New Puritans 
edited by Nicholas Blincoe and Matt Thorne.
Fourth Estate, 204 pp., £10, September 2000, 1 84115 345 1
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... textually complicated brilliances of the more accomplished contemporary short-story writers – Lorrie Moore, say, or Helen Simpson – for this wilful impoverishment might prove too much for many readers. In general, All Hail the New Puritans has an extraordinary lack of humour or lightness of touch. An exception is Blincoe’s own story, ‘Short ...

Believe it or not

Rebecca Mead: America’s National Story Project

7 February 2002
True Tales of American Life 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 416 pp., £16.99, November 2001, 0 571 21050 3
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... you’ve laid down around you, you forget about freedom shrinking at your back.’ It’s an image Lorrie Moore might be proud of. In another compelling story, ‘Isolation’ by Lucy Hayden, an unwelcome cousin who comes to visit a house of bereaved teenagers is ‘loud and talkative and moved through us like a walking television that’s been left on ...

Rescue us, writer

Christian Lorentzen: George Saunders

7 February 2013
Tenth of December 
by George Saunders.
Bloomsbury, 251 pp., £14.99, January 2013, 978 1 4088 3734 4
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... an intruder that disrupts domestic tranquillity or workplace banality; leave it to Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore or Joshua Ferris. The disease is out of place in Saunders’s skewed world. His stories are more satisfying when his characters’ good intentions bring about their undoing. Something of the sort happens in ‘Escape from Spiderhead’, set in a ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self

5 February 2004
Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... Those writers known partly for formal experimentation whose work Wolff did include (among them Lorrie Moore, Denis Johnson and Mary Robison) did not, in the stories Wolff selected, engage with the question of how a story convinces us of its reality. This is not to say that the stories Wolff selected were not interesting stories. Rather, it became ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott

23 May 2019
White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... debutantes promenading into print and creating a stir: Donna Tartt, David Leavitt, Mary Gaitskill, Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Nancy Lemann, Susan Minot, Mary Robison, Anderson Ferrell – a cast of dozens. Many of those rookies trained at the literary dojo of the author, editor, creative writing teacher and guru-mentor-mindgamer Gordon Lish, who bore the ...
11 March 1993
Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It 
by Brett Millier.
California, 602 pp., £18.50, April 1993, 0 520 07978 7
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... with Thackeray, the Brownings with each other – and now, somewhere, we might add, Bishop with Moore and Lowell. It eliminates nothing that literature confronts – ‘deaths, deaths and sicknesses’, all the flowing and flown knowledge – but it represents it as an assuaging continuum of ‘things cleared up finally’, expressed in ‘A sharp, indrawn ...

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