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Bark: Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 25, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (February 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307594130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307594136
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014: Here’s a reason Lorrie Moore is so beloved by her baby boomer brethren: she’s smart, she’s funny, her eye is even sharper than her tongue. In Bark, her latest collection of stories, all those qualities are well on display. “He had never been involved with the mentally ill before,” she writes of her mid-life anti-hero in the (sort-of) title story, "Debarking." "[B]ut he now felt more than ever that there should be strong international laws against them being too good looking.” Acerbic? Check. Knowing? Check. Says out loud on the page what we less talented, less observant mere mortals wish we could form so well in thought? Check. Check. Check. The only reason not to read these seven stories is that, perhaps, they’re just too accurate and perceptive about the way we live now--but then, why would you ever want to read stories that were anything else? --Sara Nelson

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Moore’s first collection of short stories, the uncommonly perceptive and energetically articulate Birds of America (1998), established her prominent place in the renaissance of the American short story that made itself heard with great innovation in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then, she has alternated between story collections and novels, and now a new compilation of stories will add support to the widely held opinion that the short form is her true forte. Her talent is best exhibited in the collection’s longest stories (each around 40 pages); her comfort with that length is indicated by her careful avoidance of overplotting, which, of course, dulls the effect of an expansive short story, and by not allowing the stories to seem like the outlines of novels that never got developed. These two examples of her proficiency shine: “Debarking” is about a divorced man who enters the dating scene only to experience complications with the is-she-crazy woman he starts dating and also within himself, as intimacy seems the natural antidote to “global craziness”; “Wings” concerns husband-and-wife musicians whose dreams haven’t panned out. A major ingredient of Moore’s tales of troubled lives is an abiding humor, which serves to protect her characters, in all their frailties, from grating on the reader as too pathetic. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: An extensive author tour will attract many Moore enthusiasts and generate both publicity and sales. --Brad Hooper

More About the Author

Lorrie Moore is the author of the story collections Like Life, Self-Help, and Birds of America, and the novels Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and Anagrams. She is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Customer Reviews

It felt like Ms. Moore was trying too hard and the stories just did not flow.
Bonnie Brody
The writer is witty and deep and funny and the narrow landscape of the human condition she writes about is well served by her abilities.
Amazon Customer gracies mom
I've been a fan with Lorrie Moore since I picked up her first short story collection in the 90s.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By G. Dawson on March 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a fan of short story collections, and I read a lot of them. I was excited to hear that Lorrie Moore had a new collection out, and I was looking forward to loving this book. Unfortunately, I found many of the stories to be disjointed and difficult to connect with on an emotional level. I can appreciate Moore's writing, which is clearly expert, but too many of these stories lack heart, and they seem filled with unnatural dialog. The two longest stories--Debarking and Wings--are the best in the collection, in my opinion, because they are long enough to make the characters seem human and alive. The shorter stories generally lack direction and purpose. If you're interested in short stories, I recommend you try George Saunder's Tenth of December or Alice Munro's Dear Life instead.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By P. Mann VINE VOICE on February 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love short stories but am never entirely sure how to review books of them. Giving the plot or a brief summary for each story seems kind of pointless and often redundant given that that information is usually available on the site anyway. In this case, I've decided instead to respond to some of the points others have made in their reviews.

Some have noted that some of the stories seem dated. Yes, they do. It's a fair point. Stories of the Democratic convention of 2008 or the war in Iraq may eventually pale, but I think they're still fresh enough not to seem hopelessly antiquated.

It's been noted that the book is short. Yes, and I wish it were longer. But I don't know that it's fair to knock a book for its length if the quality is there. I believe it is here.

The endings have been faulted here. I have to confess that I don't really understand this complaint. One of the many beauties of the short story is the diversity of endings. Sometimes, short stories wrap everything up with a nice bow. Other times, they simply end. And there are a variety of possibilities in between. I did not have a problem with the endings.

Some have said that these stories don't represent Moore at her best. Agreed. But even Moore at less than her best is wonderful to read. Indeed, her stories always (including here) seem welcoming. As someone else put it, and I second the point, Moore is a master at drawing you in, at giving you a full character in a paragraph. A student of the craft of short story writing would do well to study these, and those who simply enjoy reading should be rewarded.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Susan Anderson VINE VOICE on February 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lorrie Moore is one of my all-time favorite writers and Birds of America is one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. I have to say that Bark was probably my least favorite of all of Moore's books. I love Moore's weird characters and humor, but some of these stories just felt too out there to me. They were also incredibly politically-charged, which I'm not generally a fan of. But worst, the book felt about 8 years too late. Has she just been hanging on to these stories for that long? Sadly, it was short, too. Really, really short... I wanted more Moore!

However, if you're a Lorrie Moore fan, you should definitely read this. Her voice is still there with her quirky humor that feels so real. The characters are, for the most part, the types of characters you'd expect from Lorrie Moore's writing and I did find myself laughing and saying "Yes!" often, which is what I love about Moore. I just didn't feel that way throughout the entire book, like I did with Birds of America.

I'll read anything from Lorrie Moore and I hope she comes out with another book soon!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. JEFFREY MCMAHON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Full disclosure: I've been a fan of Lorrie Moore's short stories since the early 1990s, find her sardonic humor and wit are part of her appeal; the other part is that she has the rare talent to pack enough thematic and psychological complexity in a short story that I would typically expect in a novel (I'm thinking of her masterpiece "Real Estate" from her earlier collection Birds of America).

Like most collections, Bark has some hits and misses so I find it absurd to tack off stars if a few stories don't rise to the level of excellence that I expect from a master like Moore. And also it is true, as other reviewers have written, that some of the stories feel over a decade old.

But having said that there are enough highlights in this book to make it compelling reading and worthy of recommending. My very favorite story, the first one, "Debarking," is about a romance between a sympathetic, nebbish, neurotic divorcee Ira and Zora who has a mind-baffling, at times ambiguous, at times disturbing relationship with her teenage son that is so unsavory on so many levels that it impedes Zora's ability to carry on a real relationship with Ira or any man. It's hard to know how pathological Zora's connection is with her son but we are left with layers of ambiguity to sift through in a 37-page story that had me wanting for more, perhaps a 150-page novella.

Other stories with similar power are "Wings," about a stagnant couple who haven't grown beyond their years of playing "rock stars," and the final story, suggestive of her vintage works, the collection's funniest tale, "Thank You for Having Me," which takes place at a country wedding in which the musician is the ex husband of the bride.

Getting a collection in which I like a little more than half the stories which are better than most collections out there compels me to give this book a very high recommendation.
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