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.