This expansive, exquisite collection cements Moore’s standing as one of the greatest short story writers of our time.

COLLECTED STORIES

Forty superb stories by one of America’s most beloved (and best) fiction writers.

Moore is a short story superstar, a wily wordsmith, an extraordinary empath. In a few short pages—sometimes in just a few words—she is able to evoke essentially everything about the characters she conjures: the early disappointments that have shaped them, the hunger for connection that propels them, the quippy wordplay that protects them, the ways they hold themselves back or get in their own ways. That makes this vast yet intimate collection of 40 stories drawn from Moore’s decades of exceptional work—many originally published in her collections Self Help (1985), Like Life (1990), Birds of America (1998), and Bark (2014) and others extracted from her novels—something to savor, whether you are rereading old favorites or enjoying Moore’s deeply affecting blend of humor and heartache for the first time. In stories such as “The Jewish Hunter,” about a New York poet visiting the Midwest who finds and then leaves a man she might have loved; “Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens,” about a woman whose grief for her cat separates her from and then returns her to her family; and “Two Boys,” about a woman who craves the attention of an inconstant man more than the man who’s true, among others, Moore’s characters exist in a tremulous zone between hope and despair, boredom and excitement, fear and bravery, connection and detachment, belonging and displacement. And while the humans who populate Moore’s stories—presented in alphabetical (by title) rather than chronological order, “like a playlist set to shuffle,” the author writes—differ in age, life stage, gender, sexual orientation, location, and situation, all share a familiar humanity apt to resonate with readers. Moore’s stories have a way of burrowing into the head and the heart and taking up residence there, reverberating like a startled laugh or a stifled sob.

This expansive, exquisite collection cements Moore’s standing as one of the greatest short story writers of our time.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-375-71238-8

Page Count: 776

Publisher: Everyman’s Library

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Tinny perhaps, but still a minutely rendered and impressively steady feminist vision of apocalypse.

THE HANDMAID'S TALE

The time is the not-so-distant future, when the US's spiraling social freedoms have finally called down a reaction, an Iranian-style repressive "monotheocracy" calling itself the Republic of Gilead—a Bible-thumping, racist, capital-punishing, and misogynistic rule that would do away with pleasure altogether were it not for one thing: that the Gileadan women, pure and true (as opposed to all the nonbelieving women, those who've ever been adulterous or married more than once), are found rarely fertile.

Thus are drafted a whole class of "handmaids," whose function is to bear the children of the elite, to be fecund or else (else being certain death, sent out to be toxic-waste removers on outlying islands). The narrative frame for Atwood's dystopian vision is the hopeless private testimony of one of these surrogate mothers, Offred ("of" plus the name of her male protector). Lying cradled by the body of the barren wife, being meanwhile serviced by the husband, Offred's "ceremony" must be successful—if she does not want to join the ranks of the other disappeared (which include her mother, her husband—dead—and small daughter, all taken away during the years of revolt). One Of her only human conduits is a gradually developing affair with her master's chauffeur—something that's balanced more than offset, though, by the master's hypocritically un-Puritan use of her as a kind of B-girl at private parties held by the ruling men in a spirit of nostalgia and lust. This latter relationship, edging into real need (the master's), is very effectively done; it highlights the handmaid's (read Everywoman's) eternal exploitation, profane or sacred ("We are two-legged wombs, that's all: sacred vessels, ambulatory chalices"). Atwood, to her credit, creates a chillingly specific, imaginable night-mare. The book is short on characterization—this is Atwood, never a warm writer, at her steeliest—and long on cynicism—it's got none of the human credibility of a work such as Walker Percy's Love In The Ruins. But the scariness is visceral, a world that's like a dangerous and even fatal grid, an electrified fence.

Tinny perhaps, but still a minutely rendered and impressively steady feminist vision of apocalypse.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 1985

ISBN: 038549081X

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1985

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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