Bark / Lorrie Moore

Until just recently, Lorrie Moore was a professor at the University of Wisconsin. Because of her national success as a writer, during her tenure here in Madison, she generated plenty of local pride. Over the years, I’ve read a number of her books, both in novel and short story format. While I found them pleasant enough, I was not as impressed as the critics were.

Bark, her most recent collection of short stories was published in 2014. It was well received critically, which tempted me to give Moore another try. After reading one of the stories from this collection in a literary magazine, and enjoying it, I decided to give the entire book a try.

The collection itself is on the thin side, featuring eight stories. While I could not discern an overarching theme, all of them feature sharp social observations, irony, and personal tragedy, leavened with humor. Lorrie Moore is a great wordsmith and I took delight in her clever turns of phrase. But as in the earlier works, for me the stories in Bark lack the necessary ingredient needed to elevate them to true classic status. While engaging, they tended to blur together, and I found myself forgetting them soon after reading. The best story here just happens to be the one I’d previously read, Thank You For Having Me.

I’m being a bit harsh here. My guess is a good many readers will disagree with my comments. To the book’s credit, these stories are fully formed and engaging. Bark is certainly worth picking up, if only to appreciate Lorrie Moore’s clever wordplay and sympathetic characters.


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