Gerard sits, fully clothed, in his empty bathtub and pines for Benna. Neighbors in the same apartment building, they share a wall and Gerard listens for the sound of her toilet flushing. Gerard loves Benna. And then Benna loves Gerard. She listens to him play piano, she teaches poetry and sings at nightclubs.
As their relationships ebbs and flows, through reality and imagi
an•a•gram ( n -gr m ) 1. A word or phrase formed by reordering the letters of another word or phrase, such as satin to stain.However, here in her first novel, short story writer Lorrie Moore (born 1957), reordered not letters but the different scenes in order for her reader to choose the one that he or she likes best. I have seen this approached in a couple of movies but my first time for a novel. Moore’s contemporary and humorous prose makes this approach not only crisp in its freshness but al...more
This book is strange without being alienating, and while I was nervous that the "anagramming" of characters would annoy me, I actually got into the rearranging of facts and desires that Moore plays with--it reminded me very much of the process of writing, of those moments when your character can do this or this or this, and you have to...more
Let me back up for a minute. "Anagrams" rearranges and frames three characters dynamically against each other, first in a sequence of short scenes, then in a longer sustained story. So the key characters – like letters in an anagrammatic word – function differently, contribute to a separate-though-equally-plausible reality, when located in...more
Don't let this book fool you. You might pick it up and be humored by intellectual puns and clever turns of phrase before you realize you are reading what appears to be the highly conventional story of a woman in an unfortunate relationship. Like Todd Solondz's film Storytelling this novel plays with notions of fact and fiction. It isn't as simple as having a reliable or unreliable narrator, it's that everything said can mean something else, and perhaps even people...more
Moore does something amazing in the beginning of this book; she rearranges the characters' lives over and over in various short stories--hence the name Anagrams. Then, the last piece in the book is a novella using the same characters. Like all of Moore, it is by turns laugh out loud funny and heartbreaking.
My only fear in recommending this book to students is that they will think I'm the main character in the no...more
The experiment is to see whether a novelist can set forth a cast of characters with a certain set of characteristics, gradually change those characteristics, and still retain the readers' interest. The answer, of course, is no. Readers have a difficult enough job keeping chara...more
Anagrams follows the stories of Benna and Gerard, who, in a strange mash-up of scenarios, are poetry teachers, lounge singers, piano players, neighbors, parents, friends, lovers. In love and not in love. Together and then alone. The book plots the course of their relationship as it might take place if Gerard was in love with Benna, fully-clothed in his bathtub and listening f...more
Did you read it? Seriously guys, it'll take you like two minutes. I'll wait.
Okay, good. So I don't know which came first, "Happy Endings" or Anagrams, but I feel almost sure that one of them had to influence the other. Anagrams is about two people, Benna and Gerard, who are in love - sort of. When we first meet them, they are living in ad...more
Makes the book very disjointed and to be honest it reads like a bunch of short stories...more
"My Lorrie Moore connection goes back to being assigned "Anagrams" for my lousy freshman English class in college [my note: she means bryn mawr college, which i can't imagine to be THAT lousy! i hold a certain respect for these institutions!], which I expected to be another mind-numbing and vicious screed alongside the other supposedly "enlightening" books my professor had selected and then....it was transforming. I read it...more
The above should be a warning sticker on this book. I used to think that my friends* were pretending to be anguished when I made a brilliant** pun. I thought, "How nice of them!" As I've become older, I've realized that perhaps I was the one that needed a warning sticker on my forehead. Maybe I'd have more friends.
And that's the problem with the main character in "Anagrams", she has hardly anybody and tends to lose the ones she has. The author (and the main character, Be...more
She writes beautiful things, possesses a wonderful turn of phrase, uses the English language to create incredible images BUT I just couldn't relate to this story, didn't find myself absorbed in the multiple potentialities posited by the coming together of these two soul mates and I was left underwhelmed by the narrative.
Many questions have formed in my mind fr...more
I like how Lorrie Moore has a distinct, jolie laide voice, off-putting a little initially, but roping in eventually...more
“Anagrams” is a concept novel where the characters in the story stay basically the same, but are rearranged a little each instance a slice of time gets retold. What remains constant is the two main characters, Gerard and Benna, are in love with each othe...more
Despite a few intentional smoky mirrors, she never throws the wool over your eyes and she is never, ever contrived or smug -- hard to do for 100+ pages of a novel about being a person.
This one had a clever conceit (Anagrams, doi) and it's clearly...more
A novel. Difficult to describe. Different versions or possibilities of someone’s life. Somewhere Benna thinks the sadness of a dying is that with you die all the possibilities of other lives, all the imagined lives. Anagrams are such rearrangements of basic elements.
There are 4 short pieces – all of them featuring characters names Benna, Gerard and Eleanor. They stand in different relationships towards one another, live in other places, do diffe...more
"I missed him. Love, I realized, was something your spine memorized. There was nothing you could do about that."
"The problem with a beautiful woman is that she makes everyone around her feel hopelessly masculine, which if you're already male to begin with poses no particular problem. But if you're anyone else, your whole sexual identity gets dragged into the principal's office: 'S...more