Bark by Lorrie Moore review: humans at their most vulnerable

Three decades in print, lauded for her short stories (collected in Self-Help and Birds of America, among others) and her novels Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and A Gate at the Stairs, Lorrie Moore can surely now be called a doyenne of American literature. Faber agrees: Self‑Help is published as a Faber Modern Classic.

Offbeat and oblique, Moore has made a trademark of looking sidelong at contemporary behaviour in middle-class middle America; of sometimes witty and sometimes dreadful puns; of snippets of conversation that have the sense of “found” art.

Although this can be confusing (the second story in this collection, The Juniper Tree, is a fragmented mishmash of memories topped, literally, with a lemon meringue pie), when the elements work in symphony, they reveal a glimpse – awkward, funny or rawly vulnerable – of this thing we are all enmeshed in, the human condition.


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