Lorrie More is the author of the story collections Birds of America and Self-Help, and the novels Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and Anagrams. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. She is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Nobody is having a good time in Moore's ( Self-Help ) wondrously witty second collection of short stories. Her characters may live above the urban rot but fumes rise from the gutter and out of the drain pipes. The problem: there is no passion in Moore's world of ``like lives'' (as opposed to love lives), where romantic partings are all too common, children get misplaced, ``Dear John'' messages are habitually left on phone machines, and marriages endure mainly because discontented wives cannot find affordable apartments of their own. Millie, 51 and hopelessly maternal, in ``Places to Look for Your Mind,'' is a whiz at recycling leftovers, but not at finding a meaningful use of her time and talents. In ``Two Boys'' Mary escapes the demands of her difficult boyfriends (one ``claimed to be separating'' from his wife, the other ``sweated all over her'') by visiting the park, dressed in white--only to be spat on by an 11-year-old wearing green lipstick. In ``You're Ugly, Too'' Zoe flees the results of an ominous sonogram to dress up for a high-rise Halloween party. With gallows humor and unfailing understanding, Moore evokes her characters' quiet desperation and valiant searches for significance. (Apr.)
Sharply rendered, the slightly wistful tone of these eight stories reflects their color: gray, yet less autumnal than springlike, with an attendant edge of hope coloring the best of them. ``The Jewish Hunter'' stands out as a portrait of possibilities: of love, of relationship, of selfhood. In fact, Moore dances around the edges of broken relationships with a delicacy that expresses both despair, acceptance, and a fledging resilience to try again. The title story and ``Vissi d'Arte'' are excellent examples of Moore's subtle insight. These are stories that bear rereading. Recommended.-- Linda L. Rome, Mentor, Ohio