- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (September 1, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446671924
- ISBN-13: 978-0446671927
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Self-Help Paperback – September 1, 1995
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"A wry, crackly voice. . . . Fine, funny, and very moving pictures of contemporary life [from] a writer of enormous talent." —The New York Times"Brisk, ironic . . . scalpel-sharp. . . . A funny, cohesive, and moving collection of stories." —The New York Times Book Review"Astonishing. . . . Moore is so good at trapping each moment in perfect, precise detail, so masterful at cynicism and wryness that her moments of poignancy and sweetness catch us completely off guard." —San Francisco Chronicle“Sharp, flicking, on-target . . . the work of a sorcerer’s apprentice. Moore casts a cruel, mischievous spell.” —Vanity Fair“Trenchant, funny tales. . . . Moore is much more than another chronicler of the chronically out-of-sync relations between American men and women. She writes with urgency and pace.” —People --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Lorrie Moore, after many years as a professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is now Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. Moore has received honors for her work, among them the Irish Times International Prize for Literature and a Lannan Foundation fellowship, as well as the PEN/Malamud Award and the Rea Award for her achievement in the short story. Her novel A Gate at the Stairs was shortlisted for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction and for the PEN/Faulkner Award.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the best pieces in "Self-Help" is probably the first Lorrie Moore piece I ever read. "Self-Help" was published the year I graduated from college, and I think a college friend gave me a copy of "How to Become a Writer." Note the "become" instead of "be." Moore acknowledges the process involved in writing and lets her readers know that writers are not sprung fully-formed from the head of Zeus or anyone else. Listen to this beautifully assured, resonant, yet hilarious passage from "How to Become a Writer":
"First, try to be something, anything, else. A movie star/astronaut. A movie star/missionary. A movie star/kindergarten teacher. President of the World. Fail miserably. It is best if you fail at an early age--say, fourteen. Early, critical disillusionment is necessary so that at fifteen you can write long haiku sequences about thwarted desire. It is a pond, a cherry blossom, a wind brushing against sparrow wing leaving for mountain. Count the syllables. Show it to your mom. She is tough and practical. She has a son in Vietnam and a husband who may be having an affair. She believes in wearing brown because it hides spots. She'll look briefly at your writing, then back up at you with a face blank as a doughnut. She'll say: 'How about emptying the dishwasher?' Look away. Shove the forks in the fork drawer. Acccidentally break one of the freebie gas station glasses. This is the required pain and suffering. This is only for starters."
Moore likes to do that--throw in references like Vietnam, then spin things around a little so that it comes out funny. One of my favorite Lorrie Moore bits had to do with a woman who said something awful before she could stop herself--Moore described the blurted insult as being "a lizard with a hat on." Wacko as that sounds, you still know exactly what she means. That is her great gift--she makes life sound wacko and off-kilter, but you completely, utterly GET IT anyway.
Moore writes with an intensity and originality about women (and men) grappling with the fallout of postmodernity. It's been said, and sung, that there is a thin line between love and hate and all the relationships in "Self Help" come under the microscope and are found to partake of both. A sense of alienation and melancholy pervades the protagonists of "Self Help" as they are swept along on the vicissitudes of emotions that are never less than complex and laced with the mystery of growing pains and the pains that diminish us as we grow older. Moore writes about mothers, daughters, lovers, husbands, and, ultimately, about women as creative people at the mercy of never-ending stages of transition. If Alice Munro is the great modern classicist of the short story, Moore is the next-generation's candidate for writing of a more experimental nature, mirroring the increasing fragmentation of our world where the biology of women is at right angles to their need for self-expression. These stories do not provide easy closure on the fate of any of the protagonists, but in their courageous free fall and protracted states of inquiry lie their snippets of liberation and moments of epiphany.