LIKE LIFE: Stories by Lorrie Moore

LIKE LIFE: Stories

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A second story collection from Moore (Self-Help, 1985; the novel Anagrams, 1986) offers more characteristic glibness, wisecracking, and sarcasm. Moore's eight well-edited pieces, some reprinted from The New Yorker, find a number of disaffected and disillusioned lovers leading lives of either quiet desperation or noisy pathos. The losers-in-love are legion here: there's neurotic Mary in ""Two Boys,"" a Cleveland woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown who prefers her imaginary lover to her two actual lovers, one ""rich and mean"" and married, the other sensitive and poor; there's drippy Jane of ""Joy,"" a cheese-shop employee in the godforsaken Midwest whose only affection comes from her cat Fluffers; there's bitter and single Zoe in ""You're Ugly, Too,"" a history teacher at a Podunk midwestern college whose trips to New York provide little relief; and there's sharp-tongued Odette in ""The Jewish Hunter,"" a 40-year-old poet, admittedly no good at love, who meets a nice, dorky Jewish lawyer while on a library fellowship in the Midwest ""boonies,"" but prefers her cultivated morbidity to happiness with him. Moore's seeming contempt for her pathetic characters evinces itself further in ""Places to Look for Your Mind,"" the story of a silly suburban housewife in New Jersey who avoids confronting the emptiness of her life. Two stories about artists unable to cope with the ""real world"" are told from opposite perspectives. In ""Vissi d'Arte,"" a talented playwright living in seedy Times Square sacrifices everything good in his life for his still-unfinished masterpiece, which is then cannibalized by a Hollywood sharpie. The title story, vaguely futuristic, finds the wife of a struggling painter in a state of like, not love, with her slightly insane husband. ""Starving Again"" is really Moore at her best--it's a short and pithy piece also about failed love, but its very brevity is its distinction. Moore's talent for quips and puns and her aphoristic compulsion can lead to much strained seriousness. What at first glance seems clever proves--with repeated viewings--all affect, little substance.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1990
Publisher: Knopf