Bark (Signed Book)

( 9 )

Overview

A new collection of stories by one of America’s most beloved and admired short-story writers, her first in fifteen years, since Birds of America (“Fluid, cracked, mordant, colloquial . . . Will stand by itself as one of our funniest, most telling anatomies of human love and vulnerability.” —The New York Times Book Review, cover).
These eight masterly stories reveal Lorrie Moore at her most mature and in a perfect configuration of craft, mind, and bewitched spirit, as she ...
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Bark

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Overview

A new collection of stories by one of America’s most beloved and admired short-story writers, her first in fifteen years, since Birds of America (“Fluid, cracked, mordant, colloquial . . . Will stand by itself as one of our funniest, most telling anatomies of human love and vulnerability.” —The New York Times Book Review, cover).
These eight masterly stories reveal Lorrie Moore at her most mature and in a perfect configuration of craft, mind, and bewitched spirit, as she explores the passage of time and summons up its inevitable sorrows and hilarious pitfalls to reveal her own exquisite, singular wisdom.

In “Debarking,” a newly divorced man tries to keep his wits about him as the United States prepares to invade Iraq, and against this ominous moment, we see—in all its irresistible wit and darkness—the perils of divorce and what can follow in its wake . . .

In “Foes,” a political argument goes grotesquely awry as the events of 9/11 unexpectedly manifest themselves at a fund-raising dinner in Georgetown . . . In “The Juniper Tree,” a teacher visited by the ghost of her recently deceased friend is forced to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a kind of nightmare reunion . . . And in “Wings,” we watch the inevitable unraveling of two once-hopeful musicians, neither of whom held fast to their dreams nor struck out along other paths, as Moore deftly depicts the intricacies of dead-ends-ville and the workings of regret . . .

Here are people beset, burdened, buoyed; protected by raising teenage children; dating after divorce; facing the serious illness of a longtime friend; setting forth on a romantic assignation abroad, having it interrupted mid-trip, and coming to understand the larger ramifications and the impossibility of the connection . . . stories that show people coping with large dislocation in their lives, with risking a new path to answer the desire to be in relation—to someone . . .

Gimlet-eyed social observation, the public and private absurdities of American life, dramatic irony, and enduring half-cracked love wend their way through each of these narratives in a heartrending mash-up of the tragic and the laugh-out-loud—the hallmark of life in Lorrie-Moore-land.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 12/16/2013
There are eight stories in Moore’s latest collection, and, like her previous work (Birds of America), these stories are laugh-out-loud funny, as well as full of pithy commentary on contemporary life and politics. In much of Moore’s earlier fiction, the protagonists are young girls or mothers of small children. Here, they are divorcées. They have teenagers. They’ve variously tried and failed at dating, holding down jobs, being kind, or being sane. Perhaps that accounts for the ever-present sting of sadness in the book: relationships don’t fare well (with one slightly desperate exception), and the sly wisdom of Moore’s meditations on time will get under your skin like a splinter. “Referential,” a wry updating of Nabokov’s “Signs and Symbols,” is a fascinating look at what happens when the mind of one writer collides with the mind of another. In the final story, “Thank You For Having Me,” the narrator stops her teenager daughter’s onslaught of scorn by undressing, mortifying her into silence. Moore’s final note is one of hope and even love—not the romantic kind, but the kind that sees the whole world, flaws and all, and embraces it anyway. (Mar.)
Library Journal
★ 12/01/2013
In this slim volume of stories, obliquely titled Bark (referencing the protective covering of a tree, what a dog says, or a boat on which one "embarks"—all seem to apply), Moore once again brings her acute intelligence and wit to play. These sharply observed stories are filled with characters whose sense of irony keeps them at an uncomfortable emotional distance from one another and from the world they inhabit. In one story, a recently divorced father out on a date notices the walls in the restaurant, "like love, were trompe l'oeil…painted like viewful windows though only a fool wouldn't know they were walls." Also like love is the menu, "full of delicate, gruesome things—cheeks, tongues, thymus glands." Clearly, this nascent romance is likewise filled with menace, but the language around it has a fizzy rhythm that will have the reader turning the pages. VERDICT Smart, funny, and overlaid with surprising metaphor, these stories depict absurd situations that are at the same time strikingly familiar. There are no happy endings, but we cannot help laughing. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/13.]—Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-12-22
One of the best short story writers in America resumes her remarkable balancing act with a collection that is both hilarious and heartbreaking, sometimes in the same paragraph. With the announced retirement and Nobel coronation of Alice Munro, Moore (Birds of America, 1998, etc.) seems peerless in her command of tone and her virtuosity in writing stories that could never be mistaken for anyone else's. There's nothing particularly "difficult" about her fiction--except for the incisive reflections of the difficulties, complexities and absurdities of life--nothing academic or postmodern in her approach (except perhaps for the deus ex machina motorcycle gang that inadvertently crashes the unusual wedding in the astonishing closing story, "Thank You for Having Me"). And there is no title story, though the two longest (and two of the best) stories suggest the dual reference of the word "bark," to a tree or a dog. In the opening "Debarking," a man in the aftermath of a painful divorce becomes involved with an attractive woman who is plainly crazy--and perhaps the craziness is part of the attraction? "Oh, the beautiful smiles of the insane," he ruminates. "Soon, he was sure, there would be a study that showed that the mentally ill were actually more attractive than other people." He is a man with a protective bark, and one whose ex-wife accused him of "being hard on people--‘You bark at them.' " In "Wings," a singer involved with a musician who may be crazy, or just deceitful or manipulative, befriends an older man, who responds to the adage "his bark is worse than his bite" with: "I don't know why people always say that. No bark is worse than a bite. A bite is always worse." Every one of these stories has a flesh-tearing bite to it, though all but one ("Referential") are also fiendishly funny. In stories both dark and wry, Moore wields a scalpel with surgical precision.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385353724
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 34,516
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Lorrie Moore
Lorrie Moore, after many years as a professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is now Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. Moore has received honors for her work, among them the Irish Times International Prize for Literature, a Lannan Foundation fellowship, as well as the PEN/Malamud Award and the Rea Award for her achievement in the short story. Her most recent novel, A Gate at the Stairs, was shortlisted for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction and for the PEN/Faulkner Award.    
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Reading Group Guide

1. What is the metaphor of the title? How do the epigraphs help to set it up?

2. The stories share several themes, among them aging and the passage of time, parents and children, divorce and separation. What would you say is the primary theme of the collection?

3. Several of the story titles have multiple meanings. How does Moore’s wordplay keep the reader guessing?

4. The dialogue in Moore’s stories is often funny. Would you call the stories themselves humorous?

5. Real-life current events cast shadows over several of the stories. How does Moore use them to shape a deeper meaning?

6. In “Debarking,” when Zora tells Ira, “Every family is a family of alligators,” (p. 15), how does this foreshadow what’s to come?

7. Ira reads a poem in Bekka’s journal: “Time moving. / Time standing still. / What is the difference? / Time standing still is the difference” (p. 31).  He has no idea what it means, but he knows that it’s awesome. What do you think the poem means?

8. Why do you think Moore titled the story following “Debarking” “The Juniper Tree”?

9. This second story has a dreamlike quality. Do you think Moore expects the reader to accept it as realistic?

10. In “Paper Losses,” Kit asserts: “A woman had to choose her own particular unhappiness carefully. That was the only happiness in life: to choose the best unhappiness” (p. 68). What do you think of this notion?

11. What point is Moore making in “Foes”?

12. What is the metaphor of the “rat king” sequence (p. 140) in “Wings”?

13. In “Subject to Search,” Tom says that cruelty comes naturally to everyone (p. 166). Do you agree? Does that assertion prove true in Moore’s stories?

14. “Thank You for Having Me” draws a clear connection between weddings and funerals, marriage and death. What connections have you seen in your own experience?

15. On page 184, Moore writes, “Maria was a narrative girl and the story had to be spellbinding or she lost interest in the main character, who was sometimes herself and sometimes not.” Which other characters in the collection could be described in this way?

16. Which of Moore’s characters would you most like to meet again?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2014

    Excellent as expected!

    She's such a good writer, and her use of humor is a bonus. She should always do short stories--she's a master! Loved the book. Will read it again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2014

    Kids playing on nook

    Bn, none of the posts below have anything to do with a review of the book. Cant these kids be tracked and banned from using the nook as a play room????

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2014

    Iceescales1

    Im a member

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Logan

    Yes you can you have to just fight it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Fear

    Lets go to vt

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2014

    Bark-Worthy

    Ms. Moore's most recent collection of short stories leaves one wanting more Moore. The author's interesting points of views coupled with her unique rendering of how outside reality rolls across the conscious (and unconscious) mind are very enlightening. Her humor delights, and her ability to conjure contemporary points of reference are well done. This book definitely makes one want to read more of Moore (couldn't resist).

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2014

    Mousewhisker2918

    I have a red headdress :)

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2014

    Fennecfoxlover101

    Yolo. (Not ofically in animaljam but will join tomarrow.)

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews

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