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These eight masterly stories reveal Lorrie Moore at her most mature and in a perfect configuration of craft, mind, and bewitched spirit, as she explores the passage of time and summons up its inevitable sorrows and hilarious pitfalls to reveal her own exquisite, singular wisdom.
In “Debarking,” a newly divorced man tries to keep his wits about him as the United States prepares to invade Iraq, and against this ominous moment, we see—in all its irresistible wit and darkness—the perils of divorce and what can follow in its wake.
In “Foes,” a political argument goes grotesquely awry as the events of 9/11 unexpectedly manifest themselves at a fund-raising dinner in Georgetown . . . In “The Juniper Tree,” a teacher visited by the ghost of her recently deceased friend is forced to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a kind of nightmare reunion . . . And in “Wings,” we watch the inevitable unraveling of two once-hopeful musicians, neither of whom held fast to their dreams nor struck out along other paths, as Moore deftly depicts the intricacies of dead-ends-ville and the workings of regret.
Here are people beset, burdened, buoyed; protected by raising teenage children; dating after divorce; facing the serious illness of a longtime friend; setting forth on a romantic assignation abroad, having it interrupted mid-trip, and coming to understand the larger ramifications and the impossibility of the connection . . . stories that show people coping with large dislocation in their lives, with risking a new path to answer the desire to be in relation—to someone.
Gimlet-eyed social observation, the public and private absurdities of American life, dramatic irony, and enduring half-cracked love wend their way through each of these narratives in a heartrending mash-up of the tragic and the laugh-out-loud—the hallmark of life in Lorrie-Moore-land.
“Heartbreaking. . . . Mordantly funny. . . . Takes us on a rare flight of self-transcendence. . . . Moments of recognition bring jolts like electric shocks.” —The New York Review of Books
“Wonderful. . . . Masterful. . . . Profound. . . . Not a single false note.” —USA Today
“[Moore] deftly paints with negative space, releasing tremendous poignancy. . . . A vibrant and nimble display of Moore’s signature wit.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Ms Moore’s writing glides. She describes the mundane with precision and grace. . . . Bark simultaneously honours and regrets the messiness of human relationships. Ms Moore is like one of her characters: ‘sternness in one eye and gentleness in the other.’” —The Economist
“One of the finest short story writers in the country.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“[Moore’s] writing contains multitudes, mixed in exacting proportions, which is to say: this potpourri is utterly and totally unique. . . . There really is no one quite like her.” —The New Republic
“Lorrie Moore still dazzles. . . . These powerfully, almost savagely, human stories shine with a spirit of playfulness and the logic of love.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Uncanny. . . . Moving. . . . A powerful collection.” —The Washington Post
“Moore’s one of the country’s most admired writers. . . . [Bark] shows off a true advance of Moore’s powers and offers some first-rate reading pleasure.” —NPR
“[Bark is] a book to which people will refer back to understand life as we lived it in the past ten years.” —Salon
“Her stories, her stories, are perfect.” —Slate
“Here is why one reads Moore: the terse, true polish of her emotional wisdom.” —The Boston Globe
“Probably no writer since Nabokov has been as language-obsessed as Moore. . . . [Bark] lets us contemplate and savor just what makes her work unique.” —The New York Times Boo Review (cover review)
“Irresistible.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“100% brilliant, as usual. . . . Moore has come to enjoy the unusual distinction of being just about the darkest light writer around. Unhappiness, heartbreak, illness, grief, disappointment—who’d have thought they could be so much fun?” —Geoff Dyer, The Observer (London)
“Extraordinary. . . . Moore’s construction of a sentence, a paragraph, a page, is rarely less than exhilarating. . . . There is a moral nobility to Moore’s assertion that even the least brilliant of lives deserve to be brilliantly documented. . . . Moore does not make us feel better; she hurts us. But she hurts us in vital, generous ways, and it is testament to the brilliance of her writing that we let her.” —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
“If you adore Lorrie Moore, as so many of us do, you’ll find much to enjoy in her new collection. . . . All the sparkly balls are in play—puns, politics, pop culture details, sometimes all at once.” —Newsday
“If you had to criticize one thing about Lorrie Moore—and I don’t know why you would, because she’s awesome—it might be that her humor and her world-weary sense of the absurd are almost too distinctive. . . . But I don’t have the heart to really complain about any of this: I’ve been addicted to Moore’s voice for a long time now and want more, not less, of it.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Laugh-out-loud funny. . . . Reading the stories one after another is a reminder of her uncanny ability to sum up, in a sentence or two, the truths that might take a lifetime to grasp.” —Houston Chronicle
“Lorrie Moore’s writing is strange and wonderful. It should be among anyone’s top reasons for being alive.” —PopMatters
“A vital work of literature.” —Electric Literature