I once heard David Sedaris on a podcast interview say of Lorrie Moore's stories, "There's joke after joke after joke, and yet when you get to the end you're just devastated." I think that characterization may be more true of this book than of anything else Moore has written. Again and again I found myself laughing out loud while reading this book, and yet when I finished it... yes, "devastated" is exactly the right word.
The book is a bit "experimental" in its structure. The first four "chapters" are really short stories, each one fully complete and self-contained in itself. These take up one quarter of the book's pages, and the fifth chapter, titled "The Nun of That," fills out the remaining three quarters. Each of the five stories features a suite of main characters who have the same names, and similar personalities and backgrounds as well. It's as if Moore were a musician performing a concert, first playing some short tunes that feature variations on similar themes and then settling in for a longer composition to conclude the performance. It's an interesting exercise in constructing a book, but a potential reader shouldn't get the impression that this book is nothing more than an interesting intellectual exercise. On the contrary, to my eye Lorrie Moore is among the most deeply "humanist" of living writers. Her focus is on the lives and feelings of her characters, and not on dry intellectual exercises. It's the deeply-felt humanity of her characters that makes her writing so delightful, and so devastating.
- Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Inc (1 October 1986)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0394552946
- ISBN-13: 978-0394552941
- Package Dimensions: 21.6 x 15 x 3.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 408 g
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