Lorrie Moore’s prodigious strengths as a storyteller—her sneaky dovetailing of humor and sadness (Davis Sedaris has described the structure of her stories as “joke, joke, joke…then you’re devastated”) and the playful, concise versatility of her language (“Aloneness was like riding a bike. At gunpoint”)—are much on display in her latest collection, Bark: Stories. Newly present: a particular fascination with the tribulations of middle age (divorce, death) and life’s own prodigious capacity to disappoint the already disappointed— “Living,” as one character notes, “did not mean one joy piled upon another. It was merely the hope for less pain.” Sure, grimmer than previous collections, but still chockablock with the kind of pathos and humor that will move readers to laughter, then tears.
Lorrie Moore, Bark: Stories. Published by Knopf (2014). 208 pages.