Customer Review

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not One of the Stories Grabbed Me, February 20, 2014
This review is from: Bark: Stories (Hardcover)
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I have read all of Lorrie Moore's short story collections and have enjoyed them greatly, except for this book. I love her novels, especiallyA Gate at the Stairs (Vintage Contemporaries) and Anagrams. This collection, however, seems postured and very self-aware. It feels like the words were chosen so carefully that they lose their organic feeling. At times, I felt impatient to finish the story I was reading.

Many of the stories deal with themes of isolation, loneliness, anger, and bitterness. There are betrayals in relationships and self-soothing with alcohol. So many of the people, especially women, have been burned by their partners that I wonder if Ms. Moore thinks intimacy between the sexes is at all possible. The relationships portrayed in this book are so banal and shallow that I finished it with a feeling of hopelessness.

In 'Debarking', Ira is recently divorced from Marilyn and feels very hateful towards her for breaking up their marriage. He begins dating a woman named Zora who has a bizarre relationship with her son, making intimacy with Ira impossible. The backdrop of the story is the Gulf War. Ira feels that in wartime it is better to be with someone than to try and deal with the world on your own. 'Referential' deals with a woman whose 16 year-old son has manic depressive illness and her lover is pulling away from her and her son. 'Wings' is about KC, a woman whose band has fallen apart. She lives with Dench in a very meaningless relationship. She meets an elderly man named Milt with whom she begins a friendship. Their friendship becomes an epiphany for her. In 'Paper Losses', Rafe and Kit's marriage has turned into an ambiance of hate and accusation. Divorce is imminent. "He seemed to have turned into some sort of space alien. Of course, later, she would understand that all this meant he was involved with another woman, but at the time, protecting her own vanity and sanity, she was working with two hypotheses only: brain tumor or space alien."

Not one of the stories grabbed me and I didn't care about the characters. It felt like Ms. Moore was trying too hard and the stories just did not flow. I wanted otherwise, but sadly, that was not the case.
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Comments


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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 20, 2014 12:30:39 PM PST
Jill Meyer says:
Honest review.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2014 12:50:58 PM PST
Bonnie Brody says:
It was a difficult review to write. I hated to give it a 2. Bonnie

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2014 12:52:32 PM PST
Jill Meyer says:
I think you gave good reasons for your 2 stars.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2014 1:20:29 PM PST
Sharon Isch says:
Ditto what Jill said. And I think your two stars is more fair than my three.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2014 2:35:47 PM PST
Bonnie Brody says:
Sharon, Thanks for your comment. It seems like I'm the lone two star review out there. Bonnie

Posted on Feb 23, 2014 6:20:09 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Mar 1, 2014 10:56:24 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2014 6:46:26 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 24, 2014 6:46:49 AM PST
Bonnie Brody says:
K. Bunker, No need to be sarcastic because I disagree with you about a book. There are ways to be civil and have a critical conversation. Bonnie

Posted on Mar 14, 2014 11:56:54 AM PDT
Avid Reader says:
Thanks for this review; I just finished the book. I, too, have loved Moore's previous work, but had the same experience with this collection that you did. Not a single story captivated me, and I disliked all of the characters. Her writing is fantastic, as always. So this probably says more about me than the author. The second story especially mystified me.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2014 1:40:15 PM PDT
Bonnie Brody says:
Avid Reader, Thank you for taking the time to comment. It was difficult for me to write the review because I'm such a fan of Moore's, but this book just didn't hold up. Bonnie

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2014 6:33:04 PM PDT
A Reader says:
I appreciate the honesty of your review. I have always been a huge lover of Moore's stories -- not at all a lover of her novels though -- I've always believed stories were her strong suit. So I thought, hey! A new collection! Must get! But it sounds like the stories have fallen the way of the novels, and so you've saved me a few dollars. (I'd hate to think her writing is losing steam. I wonder why that would be. Sincerely hope she makes a solid comeback. I used to tear her stories out of the New Yorker and give them to all my friends. I'd send them into another room while I cooked dinner and made them read them on the spot. Haven't had that experience in a long, long time, sadly.)
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