Collected here for the first time in one volume are forty stories by Lorrie Moore—originally published in the acclaimed collections Self-Help, Like Life, Birds of America, and Bark and including three additional stories excerpted from her novels.
Moore is one of America’s most revered writers, and this career-spanning collection showcases her exceptional talent for leavening tragedy with humor, for blending sorrow with subversive wit. Her keenly observed stories are peopled by a variety of lost souls—husbands, wives, lovers, tourists, professors, students, even a ghost—who are often grappling with pain or disappointment: a divorced man obsessed with self-help books, a washed-up Hollywood actress living in a hotel, a woman with a terminal illness. But however lovelorn or dislocated the characters—from the wisecracking wedding guest in “Thank You for Having Me” to the self-deluded musicians in “Wings” to the complicated parent-child pairs in “How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes)” and “The Kid’s Guide to Divorce”—their stories are always grounded in insight and compassion. Moore’s portraits of the parents of a seriously ill child in “People Like That Are the Only People Here” and of a woman haunted by guilt over the death of her friend’s baby in “Terrific Mother” achieve a notably unsentimental and yet quietly devastating power. Whether moving or darkly funny, all of these pieces channel the messiness of the human condition through Moore’s characteristically knowing, wry voice, and together they confirm her as a master of the short story.