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Like Life by Lorrie Moore
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Like Life (1990)

by Lorrie Moore

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Such a good mix of humour and pathos, the book is a good example of the author's compulsive penchant for wisecracks which fit awkwardly into the narrative, just like the absurd way her characters fit into their worlds.

Further reading: this Guardian review of Lorrie Moore's Collected Stories. ( )
  kitzyl | Dec 31, 2018 |
one of the funniest bits to me from the title story:

People with money would spend six dollars on a cocktail for themselves but not eighty cents toward a draft beer for a guy with a shirt like that. Rudy would return home with enough cash for one new brush, and with that new brush would paint a picture of a bunch of businessmen sodomizing farm animals. "The best thing about figure painting," he liked to say, "is deciding what everyone will wear." ( )
  viviennestrauss | Aug 31, 2015 |
A wonderful collection of short stories. The author captures so much of the uncertainty and absurdity of existence. The first trip to the vet in 'Joy' had me laughing out loud. Almost immediately afterwards, Ms Moore introduces a plot thread that foreshadows grief and lost innocence. Like Kafka, like life, she mixes the small pleasures with the struggles to make sense of the shape of life. All wrapped up in the most exquisite prose; metaphors fresh, appropriate and beautiful in every one of the eight stories in this collection. The oddity of the title story caught me by surprise at first. By the end, I was once more in love with Ms Moore's all too human characters. ( )
  ushibatake | Aug 10, 2014 |
I have read a few books by Lorrie Moore and I appreciate her writing style. Overall I enjoyed this collection but the stories did not resonate with me as much as other books I have read by her. However she is just such a good writer and addresses such unique and quirky aspects of life that you feel you just have to read her writings. I look forward to her next book. ( )
  nivramkoorb | May 21, 2012 |
Lorrie Moore is a unique and wonderful writer. I was absolutely blown away by the first of her short stories that I read about 10 years ago, "How to Talk to Your Mother." It's so different from anything else written that I always include it in my Intro to Fiction courses. I also enjoyed her collection [Birds of America], so I was eager to read [Like Life]. It didn't disappoint.

The eight stories in the collection feature characters that are at the same time ordinary and distinctive. Many of them are lonely and/or somewhat desperate to find romance. One of Moore's finest techniques is the way she uses small details in the setting or secondary events to create a mood that suits her main character's emotional state. In "Two Boys," for example, Mary has moved to a new and very dull town following the breakup of a bad romance. We know by this description that that the move was probably not her best choice:

"She lived in a small room above a meat company--Alexander Hamilton Pork--and in front, daily, they wheeled in the pale, fatty carcasses, hooked and naked, uncut, unhooved. She tried not to let the refrigerated smell follow her in the door, up the stairs, the vague shame and hamburger death of it, though sometimes it did. Every day she tried not to step in the blood that ran off the sidewalk and collected in the gutter, dark and alive. At five-thirty she approached her own building in a halting tiptoe and held her breath. The trucks out front pulled away to go home, and the Hamilton Pork butchers, in their red-stained doctor's coats and badges printed from ten-dollar bills, hosed down the sidewalk, leaving the block glistening like a canal. The squeegee kid at the corner would smile at Mary and then, low on water, rush to dip into the puddles and smear their squeegees, watery pink, across the windshields of cars stopped for the light."

The little details say it all. Mary has been sending post cards to friends bragging that, for the first time in her life, she is dating two men at the same time--but neither one is the man of her dreams. The description above parallels the reader's perception that something isn't quite right in her life, no matter how hard she smiles, no matter how fast she tried to run upstairs, no matter how much water pours over the sidewalk. It's an image that recurs throughout the story.

Small but odd events take on significant meaning in the lives of Moore's characters. "Joy" revolves around a woman taking her cat to the vet for a flea bath; in "You're Ugly, Too," Zoe attends a Halloween party dressed as a bonehead and is set up with a man dressed as a naked woman. Mary ("Two Boys"), sitting in a park, is spat upon by a llittle girl dressed way beyond her years.

This may all sound rather depressing, but the amazing thing is that it isn't. Moore writes with humor and with affection for her characters, most of whom just pick up and keep on trying. They are people that I feel that I know well.

Moore's first novel, [A Gate to the Stairs], has gotten mixed reviews, but it was a finalist for the 2010 Orange Prize. It's sitting on my TBR shelf, and I look forward to reading it soon. She is an extraordinary short story writer; hopefully I will be able to say that she is an extraordinary novelist as well. ( )
4 vote Cariola | Jun 14, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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Lorrie Mooreprimary authorall editionscalculated
Murillo Fort, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"It seemed very sad to see you going off in your new shoes alone." - Zelda Fitzgerald, in a letter to her husband, February 1932
Dedication
For making the slow going less slow, the author wishes to thank the Corporation of Yaddo, the University of Wisconsin Graduate School, the Wisconsin Arts Board, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
First words
For the first time in her life, Mary was seeing two boys at once. It involved extra laundry, an answering machine, and dark solo trips in taxicabs, which, in Cleveland, had to be summoned by phone, but she recommended it in postcards to friends.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375719164, Paperback)

In Like Life’s eight exquisite stories, Lorrie Moore’s characters stumble through their daily existence. These men and women, unsettled and adrift and often frightened, can’t quite understand how they arrived at their present situations. Harry has been reworking a play for years in his apartment near Times Square in New York. Jane is biding her time at a cheese shop in a Midwest mall. Dennis, unhappily divorced, buries himself in self-help books about healthful food and healthy relationships. One prefers to speak on the phone rather than face his friends, another lets the answering machine do all the talking. But whether rejected, afraid to commit, bored, disillusioned or just misunderstood, even the most hard-bitten are not without some abiding trust in love.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:42 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In this brilliant collection of stories, Lorrie Moore addresses herself to a contemporary emotional dilemma - the widening gulf between men and women, and the simultaneous yearning for and fear of closeness.

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