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Self-Help

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  7,989 Ratings  ·  621 Reviews
In these tales of loss and pleasure, lovers and family, a woman learns to conduct an affair, a child of divorce dances with her mother, and a woman with a terminal illness contemplates her exit. Filled with the sharp humor, emotional acuity, and joyful language Moore has become famous for, these nine glittering tales marked the introduction of an extravagantly gifted write ...more
Paperback, 163 pages
Published December 2nd 2005 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1985)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jessica
Sep 30, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who cry at puns
I can't remember which of her books it is, I think it's this one, in which a character observes: "This Danish is too Sweetish for me to Finnish!"

If you don't like that, you probably wouldn't like Lorrie Moore much.

And if you don't like Lorrie Moore, I probably wouldn't really like you.
Jessica Roy
Jun 06, 2010 Jessica Roy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so beautiful I can't even stand it.

Choice quotes:

"Cold men destroy women," my mother wrote me years later. "They woo them with something personable that they bring out for show, something annexed to their souls like a fake greenhouse, lead you in, and you think you see life and vitality and sun and greenness, and then when you love them, they lead you out into their real soul, a drafty, cavernous, empty ballroom, inexorably arched and vaulted and mocking you with its echoes--you hea
...more
Jodi
Jul 01, 2007 Jodi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-read
You pick up Lorrie Moore’s collection of short stories called Self-Help because you’ve always admired her writing. Plus, your own writing is often compared to hers. Not because you are a master of the form, like Moore, but more because your short stories are peppered with a sort of sad and self-deprecating humor.

What you love about reading short story collections over short story anthologies is that you can pick up the threads that move throughout the stories. Moore has a thing for opera singers
...more
Sidik Fofana
Jan 29, 2015 Sidik Fofana rated it it was amazing
SIX WORD REVIEW: To think, she was twenty five.
Tristan Yi
Oct 24, 2011 Tristan Yi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a lyrical masterpiece of interconnecting words, meanings, and emotions. It was the cat's pajamas--that is, if the cat had just broken up with her boyfriend and stayed at home watching old Ingrid Bergman movies, getting over it by darkly observing the world and making the saddest jokes a cat will ever meow. That is an example of an overextended metaphor and is not that accurate in describing the amazing, heartbreaking soulfulness that is this book.

It's funny, sad, dark, and upliftin
...more
Stephanie Sun
“Meet in expensive raincoats, on a pea-soupy night.”

So begins the first story of Lorrie Moore’s first book, most of which she wrote as an M.F.A. student at Cornell University. Eight words, none of which would tax the vocabulary of a fifth-grader, and yet all of the signature elements that Moore built her award-winning career on are there: the fledgling attempts at urbanity so fragile they must be spelled out (“expensive raincoats”), the perfectly failed eloquence (“pea-soupy”), and the self-ca
...more
Kristopher Jansma
Apr 12, 2008 Kristopher Jansma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookblog

Years ago I read Lorrie Moore's excellent Who Will Run the Frog Hospital for a grad school class (on memoirs?) and I have been a fan ever since. Every so often I will run across one of her essays or stories and find myself in stitches, although her humor almost always comes with a healthy dose of irony or solemnity to keep it from being a pure laugh fest. This semester I began my Creative Writing course with an out loud, round-the-class, reading of an essay (which turns out to be from Self-Help)
...more
Misha
Sep 21, 2009 Misha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009, short-stories
I'm having a hard time finding something to say about this collection except that I loved it. I'll soon be picking up Like Life, I think, as well as trying to learn more about Moore herself. I'm curious to know how autobiographical her writing is, because the emotions in each story just ring so true. Of course, that's what a good writer does -- taps into the commonality of human experience and shows us that we are not alone.

I really enjoyed the way Moore played with tense and point of view to t
...more
Jessica Draper
Sep 11, 2009 Jessica Draper rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The blurbs and reviews on this one praised its author's sense of humor and great writing style, but I should've paid more attention to the mentions of her ability to pick out the poignant, heartbreaking moments we all share--apparently, that means parents' divorce, bad relationships, and general inability to make good choices. Yes, she's very good at description, and can turn a nice phrase. "How to Be an Other Woman" caught me with evocative imagery and a cynical but true take on what it's like ...more
Joan Winnek
With much respect for Moore's compelling writing, I have found these stories difficult. I guess I am
psychologically too vulnerable.
Amber
Jul 09, 2007 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every single short story I wrote in my undergrad creative writing workshops was a ripoff of Lorrie Moore in some way. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Kiwi
Lorrie Moore has a talent with words and poetic images, but the stories in this collection were so depressing. I only loved the first one, about the woman who becomes a mistress, I found it beautifully done and deserving a high rating, but the others weren’t my cup of tea. My 2 stars rating is the inadequate but necessary average.
Vanessa
Nov 30, 2016 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This was my first Lorrie Moore collection, and I really truly enjoyed it. However, I wasn't expecting the stories to be so brutally depressing - although there was a great amount of tongue-in-cheek humour throughout the collection (Moore has a truly biting wit), the subjects of the stories in question are not ideal for picking up if you are in a tired or low headspace.

Moore's writing is jaunty and staccato, her prose biting, and she covers a myriad of topics in this collection - everything from
...more
Garlan ✌
A mind like a saber, razor sharp and sure. In these nine stories, Lorrie Moore chronicles the off kilter relations between men and women, using wit and cynicism to dissect their day to day lives. She commands a wonderful use of the language that reflects her unique understanding of the human condition. This is a small collection of great stories.

In “How to Be an Other Woman” the protagonist reflects on her relationship with a married man -
“When you were six you thought mistress meant to put yo
...more
g
Nov 03, 2009 g rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A quick read. I liked the first few stories best, but it may be because the later ones seemed to reiterate the early ones: there is not a lot of range in this collection, and the tone and style got old. There are some gems in here, though: reading "How," a story about a woman falling out of love, was an uncomfortable and devastatingly familiar experience. The following passage slayed me:
Pace around the kitchen and say that you are unhappy.

But I love you, he will say in his soft, bewildered way,
...more
Derek
I discovered Lorrie Moore only recently in fact, but I'm certain the timing is just right, any younger I wouldn't have really 'got' her. It's like reading Scott Adams' God's Debris when you're sixteen, or something comparable to that.
I discovered Lorrie Moore while listening to the audio book of The Best American Short Stories Of The Century edited by John Updike. She was reading her story, You're Ugly Too.
I was immediately sold.

Now comes the hard part: I'm not so good at reviewing books that
...more
Thor Balanon
Jun 04, 2016 Thor Balanon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deserves all the superlatives. She writes sharply, flawlessly, intensely.
Leesa
May 24, 2013 Leesa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love so many things about Lorrie Moore (one of them being her unique, wry sense of humor), but I think my favorite thing is her ability to take me so deeply into a metaphor, I almost forget what we were talking abt. Almost. She is my favorite metaphorist. Her books are like textbooks to me. One of my faves from this collection: "Cold men destroy women," my mother wrote me years later. "They woo them with something personable that they bring out for show, something annexed to their souls like a ...more
Lindsay Andros
Aug 02, 2015 Lindsay Andros rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, short-stories
Compelling and often heart-wrenching stories that work together perfectly as a collection, with characters and scenarios popping up in one story that were mentioned briefly previously. These stories were written thirty years ago, but were still powerful enough to make me want to call my mother and tell her I love her. Though they are typical in their topics, they are very atypical in their telling: second-person, how-to-style manuals. Very intriguing and unique.
Alexander Patino
Hands down my favorite short story collection EVER. Not exaggerating. It changed me, moved me, exhilarated me in ways few books ever have.
Paul Eckert
Jun 17, 2010 Paul Eckert rated it it was amazing
Lorrie Moore will make you laugh, break your heart, make you depressed, summon sympathy you didn't know you were capable of, and make you a character in every story in this collection.

In recognition of the book's title, most of the stories in Self-Help are written in second person. It is very rare that an entirely second person story accomplishes the author's intent, that is, to make the reader a part of the story. As if it is happening to you, you, you. Moore, however knocks it out of the park.
...more
Wanda
Jul 04, 2010 Wanda rated it liked it
“Self-Help" is an uneven collection of short stories I acquired this collection of short stories from a member of one of my book clubs and read them on a few lazy afternoons at the pool. They are musings on relationships that started off with a bang with the very funny opening piece entitled: "How to Be an Other Woman." Other woman” is the opening piece and an exceptional little short story. It is quite funny and Moore has a way of detaching herself from the characters and create a story that co ...more
Tung
May 20, 2010 Tung rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This book is a collection of short stories -- all about broken relationships between men and women, with half of these stories creatively written in second-person narratives, like typical self-help books. One story is about a mistress dealing with her mixed emotions about being a mistress; another is about a woman who suspects her musically-talented husband is having an affair; another is about a woman who decides to end her life before her cancer does, and the effect that the announcement of he ...more
Peggy
Dec 15, 2011 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the last story, "To Fill" is absolutely devastating. I knew it would be which is why I had to put the story aside midway because I knew I needed to read it only when I could stand hitting bottom with this remarkable character Riva. I only brought myself to finish today because I'm getting reminders from the library. I don't know why I hadn't read this book previously. I've been working backwards from "The Gate at the Top of the Stairs." I read "Anagrams" in August then last month Stephan ...more
Steve
Aug 12, 2010 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lots of great things about this book. At times, I was laughing out loud which rarely happens to me when I read literary fiction or any book for that matter. Interestingly, she uses the second person 'you' in most of the stories which would seem like it would be tiresome, but it's not. As I read along, the 'you's sounded strangely more like 'I's. Also, she swims through scenes fairly quickly unlike other authors who might stick to one single scene for ten or more pages. The effect is wonderful be ...more
Faydra
Aug 22, 2012 Faydra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This book was depressing and hopeless and all the characters were abysmal.

Yikes. I sound so judgmental.

But there it is. Everything about this book felt cold. I felt as though all the characters, even at their most honest, their most vulnerable, were covering something up, most of them hiding behind silly and witty phrases but never experiencing an emotional breakthrough or recovery or... everything just sort of is and drifts and... blah!

Except Riva. That woman took some action. God bless he
...more
Allie
Jun 09, 2012 Allie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lorrie Moore continues to be one of my absolute favorite living American short fiction writers. I was reminded to pick up this book while I was reading Brian Richardson's Unnatural Voices, in which he discusses Moore's use of the second person narrative. Self-Help has a lot of second-person stories, and they never feel tired or manipulative. "How to Become a Writer" is, of course, a classic. "How" and "How to Be an Other Woman" are equally great uses of the form. While a few of the stories, lik ...more
R.
Aug 15, 2009 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Lorrie? Lorrie..? If you can get here by Wednesday, we can curl up and watch The Five Lives of Criss Angel. He'll be walking through a field of landmines. He calls this, "Death Field". During the commercials I will do what I can to explain his previous trick, entitled "White Death". Angel was buried alive under a ton of Californian mountain snow (no, that's not code for cocaine). He became a snow Angel! Lorrie? Gosh. Heck. We don't even have to watch television. Just reel me off some puns from t ...more
Miles Klee
Apr 04, 2012 Miles Klee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
We’ve no shortage of opinions here so have another—I admire the overworked sentence like one admires overrehearsed acting: it’s hitting all the marks. George Saunders at Columbia last Thursday, after saying that fiction that strives for a certain control of effect is doomed, invoked an editor for whom a successful short story is a string of sentences, each an access of some mysterious desire to read the next. Is this style of engineering exempt, then, from the Let-Go-Of-The-Reader’s-Throat Rule? ...more
Steven
Apr 20, 2008 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This collection still seems as innovative and inventive as it did when I first read it in ’85. Her “How to…” stories had such a spark of originality about them that stylistically they couldn’t be copied. Second person point of view feels fresh again. Of course it’s not just the POV. She combines that with a unique syntax that makes ordinary words fresh. And the ironic and sarcastic humor, a loose mask for an incredible bitterness, a bitterness that really only comes out in the humor. In her late ...more
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Lorrie Moore was born in Glens Falls, New York in 1957. She attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, where she tutored on an Indian reservation, and was editor of the university literary magazine and, at age 19, won Seventeen Magazine’s Fiction Contest. After graduating summa cum laude, she worked in New York for two years before going on to received a Masters in Fine Arts from Cornel ...more
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“That is what is wrong with cold people. Not that they have ice in their souls - we all have a bit of that - but that they insist every word and deed mirror that ice. They never learn the beauty or value of gesture. The emotional necessity. For them, it is all honesty before kindness, truth before art. Love is art, not truth. It's like painting scenery.” 119 likes
“Love drains you, takes with it much of your blood sugar and water weight. You are like a house slowly losing its electricity, the fans slowing, the lights dimming and flickering; the clocks stop and go and stop.” 65 likes
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