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Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? Paperback – April 13, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A disillusioned, middle-aged woman's remembrance of an ephemeral teenage friendship is triggered by eating cervelles in a Parisian restaurant in Moore's acerbic, witty and affecting third novel (after Like Life). While vacationing in Paris, narrator Berie Carr, whose marriage is stuck in a bleakly funny state of suspended collapse, looks back to her girlhood in Horsehearts, an Adirondack tourist town near the Canadian border. There in the summer of 1972, she was a skinny, 15-year-old misfit who rejected her parents and idolized her sassy, sexually precocious friend Sils, who played Cinderella at a theme park called Storyland where Berie was a cashier. In a series of flashbacks, Berie recounts stealing into bars with Sils; sneaking cigarettes in the shadows of Storyland rides named Memory Lane and The Lost Mine; and how, midway through the summer, she was shipped off to Baptist camp after filching hundreds of dollars from her register to pay for an abortion for Sils. Moore's bitterly funny hymn to vanished adolescence is suffused with droll wordplay, allegorical images of lost innocence and fairy-tale witchery and a poignant awareness of how life's significant events often prove dismally anticlimactic.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Looking back at her childhood from an unsuccessful marriage, Berie Carr remembers her best friend, Sils, and their last summer together in 1972. They worked in an amusement park, Berie as a cashier, Sils as Cinderella. At 15, they were irreverent, wild, curious, and oblivious to authority, and they spent the summer testing limits. Sils's experiments led to the inevitable unwanted pregnancy, and Berie provided the genius to fund the inevitable abortion. Unfortunately, larceny became a habit for Berie, and she was eventually caught in the act and sent away to church camp. The stories of Sils and of Berie's husband seem to have little to connect them, and Berie's final commentary does not bring them together. Although the pieces are well done, the whole is disjointed. A possible candidate where Moore's works (e.g., Anagrams, LJ 10/1/86) are popular.
Johanna M. Burkhardt, Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Univ. of Rhode Island
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 147 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400033829
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400033829
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Amester17 on May 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
I admit this upfront: I am a huge fan of Lorrie Moore and I tend to love anything she writes. I read this book years ago and, despite moves back and forth across several bodies of water, this is one of the ones that always make the cut. It is the story of adolescence -- Berie and Sils, two 15-year old girls from a nowhere town, with issues and complications and stories, none of them horrendous and both, or all, remarkably sad and touching for their lack of extraordinary-ness -- and also the story of memory. Berie, trapped in a marriage that no longer seems to work, remembers back to a pivotal moment in time. How all that came before us affects at least part of what we later become is a big theme here, as is the temporal nature of all relationships, even those with people we love and care for very deeply.

I love this book. I think the writing is gorgeous. There are very clever, very funny bits, as well, as is typical of Moore's work.

In response to some of the other reviews, no, this is not a lighthearted romp through adolescence. It isn't a beach read. It's a literary jewel that, if appreciated, will stay with you long after you regretfully close its covers.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Martha E. Pollack on October 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?" is an achingly sad novel that combines a coming-of-age tale with one of middle-aged emptiness. Berie, a photography curator at her local historical society, is visiting Paris with her medical-researcher husband. Though they go through the daily routines of a husband and wife, their marriage is emotionally empty: as Berie notes, on the second page of the book "The affectionate farce I make of him ignores the ways I feel his lack of love for me." Her adult weariness leads her to reminisce about the exceptionally close friendship she had a teenager with Sils, the local beauty in the small town on the Canadian border where they live. Much of the book tells the story of one summer when Sils and Berie worked at a local amusement park together, Sils entertaining park guests as Cinderella and Berie selling tickets, and of the results of Berie's stealing money to help Sils when she become pregnant.

Lonnie Moore is a wonderful writer, whose careful use of detail can powerfully evoke a time period: I'd forgotten all about Yardley lip gloss and how essential it was for teenage girls in the early 70s. Moore is also an enigmatic writer, and her prose needs to be read slowly, but rewards careful reading with true poignancy.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia on November 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For some reason I was not aware of Lorrie Moore until I heard about her most recent book "A Gate at the Stairs". I'm thrilled to have discovered her and I'm looking forward to reading as much as I can from her. "Frog Hospital" is a wander down memory lane. Moore and I are contemporaries so me (and a few billion other boomers) will easily recognize her sense of time. The place was a bit more foreign to me; it almost felt like Canadian though since Minnesota is so close to Canada that's not too surprising. She writes about two 15 year old girls, best friends, and best friends to the point of there being conscious only of one another. Best friends with an intensity only teenagers can conjure up, to the point that it feels like first love with all it's sensuality and body awareness, with lots of touching, not in a sexual way however. They chase boys or 20 something men in hopes of that but even when they're with men they're really just with one another, complete with a lover and a beloved. Silsby is Cinderalla, literally wearing that costume at the local amusement park, but also for awkward, late to develop Berie. Berie idolizes Silsby from close by. They've been friends since childhood so they know one another's layers; they have a short hand that locks everyone else out. Silsby finds herself in trouble and, as always, naturally accepts Berie's help. Silsby is used to tributes. This one costs Berie too much. The consequences is they taken apart, left to fend for themselves, without their other half. Humpty dumpty falls (and even puts in an appearance). Years later when they meet again they can't put him back together again though they try. They're grown women who've grown apart, there's still love but no commonality except their shared past. I love Moore's tragic sense of humor.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By T. Tak on September 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book deals with 2 major issues pertaining to teenagers: teen pregnancy and the friendship that sort of withers away as the two close friends become mature individuals and start to value different things. Though the author describes these issues quite casually without overly burdening the readers or pressuring them, I really think that these issues are not something we should feel lightly about. The writer touches upon two crucial issues that all teenagers are so susceptible to and that's why I credit the author so highly.

The most apparent issue discussed in the book is teen pregnancy: Sils, the main character's closest friend gets pregnant after dating an older man. Judging that the boyfriend, Mike, would not be responsible for the baby, Sils decides to get an abortion. At the time, because Sils and Berie, the main character, are only sixteen years old, they don't have time to think much about morality of their decision. The decisions are hasty, largely concerned with their budget and how to get the abortion without causing much trouble. The scene when she goes through the surgery brings forth a lot of emotion from the reader because Sils lies alone in the operation room, in a shabby facility.

Going through these unbearable crisis as teenagers, Berie and Sils confirm their long friendship and bond. Because Sils was more developed and began dating boys at earlier age, Berie sometimes felt distant from Sils. When they sneaked out to dance parties, boys chased after Sils and Berie was left untouched until Sils rejected them. The devision that Berie and Sils went through because of popularity and appearances disappear as Sils learn that Berie is her true friend who can stay by her side when such difficulties surround her.
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