Friday, July 25, 2014

Bark: Stories

"A maternal vertigo beset her, the room circled, and the cutting scars on her son's arms sometimes seemed to spell out Pete's name in the thin lines there, the loss of fathers etched primitively in the algebra of skin."

Author Lorrie Moore is noted for her eloquent writing. In the sentence above from the third page of the short story "Referential," she sums up what she has described in the first two pages of the story. A widow's son has become self-destructive and been institutionalized. In her mourning for all that is lost, she had denied herself what she still has.

Leaving the facility, the mother and her fading boyfriend are caught in a surprising springtime snowstorms. The wipers struggle to clear the glass. How can they see a way ahead.

In her recent collection Bark: Stories, Moore portrays many people finding reasons to be unhappy. Some of them are good reasons, most of which seem to radiate from making bad relationship choices. What these characters seem to lack are abilities to extract themselves. It is almost painful to read, but Moore draws us in, tapping out interest that precedes our willingness to help. But these are only characters in a book, so we can only observe. Maybe we can help those who are really around us.

Moore, Lorrie. Bark: Stories. Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 192p. ISBN 9780307594136.

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