BARK by Lorrie Moore
Kirkus Star

BARK

Stories

KIRKUS REVIEW

One of the best short story writers in America resumes her remarkable balancing act with a collection that is both hilarious and heartbreaking, sometimes in the same paragraph.

With the announced retirement and Nobel coronation of Alice Munro, Moore (Birds of America, 1998, etc.) seems peerless in her command of tone and her virtuosity in writing stories that could never be mistaken for anyone else’s. There’s nothing particularly “difficult” about her fiction—except for the incisive reflections of the difficulties, complexities and absurdities of life—nothing academic or postmodern in her approach (except perhaps for the deus ex machina motorcycle gang that inadvertently crashes the unusual wedding in the astonishing closing story, “Thank You for Having Me”). And there is no title story, though the two longest (and two of the best) stories suggest the dual reference of the word "bark," to a tree or a dog. In the opening “Debarking,” a man in the aftermath of a painful divorce becomes involved with an attractive woman who is plainly crazy—and perhaps the craziness is part of the attraction? “Oh, the beautiful smiles of the insane,” he ruminates. “Soon, he was sure, there would be a study that showed that the mentally ill were actually more attractive than other people.” He is a man with a protective bark, and one whose ex-wife accused him of “being hard on people—‘You bark at them.’ ” In “Wings,” a singer involved with a musician who may be crazy, or just deceitful or manipulative, befriends an older man, who responds to the adage “his bark is worse than his bite” with: “I don’t know why people always say that. No bark is worse than a bite. A bite is always worse.” Every one of these stories has a flesh-tearing bite to it, though all but one (“Referential”) are also fiendishly funny.

In stories both dark and wry, Moore wields a scalpel with surgical precision.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-307-59413-6
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2014




OUR CRITICS' TAKES ON MORE BESTSELLERS

See full list >
Cover art for THE DEATH OF MONEY
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDMA
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for CREATIVITY, INC.
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Cover art for HOW ABOUT NEVER—IS NEVER GOOD FOR YOU?
VERDICT:
SKIP IT

MORE BY LORRIE MOORE

FictionA GATE AT THE STAIRS by Lorrie Moore
by Lorrie Moore
FictionTHE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2004 by Lorrie Moore
by Lorrie Moore
FictionBIRDS OF AMERICA by Lorrie Moore
by Lorrie Moore

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionDEAR LIFE by Alice Munro
by Alice Munro
FictionBACK WHEN WE WERE GROWNUPS by Anne Tyler
by Anne Tyler