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Anagrams
 
by
Lorrie Moore
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Anagrams

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  2,451 ratings  ·  270 reviews
Benna Carpenter is a young woman with vitality, charm and an irresistible comic spirit, by temperament a lover of people, language, literature and the zany, unpredictable, redeeming miracles of life. Until the roles and wordplay reveal the startling truth about her life.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 6th 1987 by Penguin Books (first published 1986)
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K.D. Absolutely
May 22, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core
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
Paul
Today I thought I'd lost my copy of Anagrams and a little voice asked me if that would be so bad a thing to happen. As I said in my update, I was getting the idea that Moore is less. (Er, is that still funny?)

Sorry Lorrie. I am the swine before which you cast your pearl. Oink.

Anagram : List your novel really though quite Christmas and smirky monotonously please so aggravating make mine a Harvey Wallbanger

is an anagram of

I thought your novel was monotonously smirky and quite aggravating but I...more
Erika Jo
This book was devastating – devastatingly funny, devastatingly honest. And its denouement, or the final unraveling of plot complexities, is devastatingly sad.

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
Madeline
Margaret Atwood has a great short story called "Happy Endings" that I kept thinking about as I read this book. Read it here and then continue with the review.

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
Edan
Firstly, I am biased not only because I love Lorrie Moore but also because my first name is an anagram (I am named after my Grandmother, whose name was Edna).

***

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
Jim
Dec 07, 2010 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: Stephanie's review
Shelves: fiction, 1001-books
An extremely well-written, provocative, witty, and thought-provoking novel about the vagaries of modern life. I couldn't write like this even in my dreams. The fact that anyone can is a marvel to me.

I am indebted to Stephanie for her insightful review of this book, without which I would not have known about the magical prose of Lorrie Moore. I will certainly read more of her work in the near future.

Here she paints a complex, layered picture of the real and not-so-real aspects of three lives. In...more
Natalie
"life is sad. here is someone."

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
Shaindel
Aug 26, 2008 Shaindel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers, anyone...
I seriously think if I could choose to write like *anyone*, it would be Lorrie Moore.

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
Misha
Thirteen years ago, the dean of my law school gave a speech on our orientation day about how what good lawyers do is to “turn the crystal” on the law – look at it from different angles, bend the light a little differently and see how a whole new world of ideas can open up just by virtue of a different perspective. I often thought of that long-ago lecture while reading this book, as I watched Moore turn the crystal on three people and how their lives intertwine under different sets of circumstanc...more
Courtney Gustafson
This is the Lorrie Moore I love. There is essentially nothing wrong with this book. You couldn't find a flaw if you tried.

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
Lindsay
The concept of this book is intriguing and for the most part well executed. The relationship between a woman, Benna, and a man, Gerard, is described in six different "possible lives" or what Moore calls anagrams: jumbled up versions of the same people and ingredients, rearranged into six different plot lines. The last one is the longest -- maybe it is the "true" one, maybe it isn't, but it is unequivocally the saddest. I was just going along with this book for a while, enjoying the humor, and th...more
Emma Bolden
This is both the best and saddest book I've ever read. Actually, I'm not sure why we aren't all spending all of our time reading this book forever. I can't say why because, well, pretty much anything I'd say would be a spoiler, and this book is too good to spoil. Seriously, this book is so good that I might get a Lorrie Moore-themed tattoo.
Joan Winnek
I laughed out loud so many times while reading Anagrams that my sister became curious and I had to read passages to her. But in the end it much more than comedy, a deep and moving experience. I am still puzzled by the way the book is structured, but I wouldn't want to lose any part of it, so I guess it worked well.
Tfitoby
Well. It was certainly better than recent Nick Hornby novels. But is that the best thing I can say about my first Laurie Moore experience?

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
Laurie
If Margaret Atwood had decided to be just a little more of a bummer, she could have been Lorrie Moore, and she might have written Anagrams.

It was a good book. I liked the play on narrative structure, going from each different incarnation of Benna, Gerald, and Eleanor. It was something that only someone as skilled at short story writing as Moore could have really pulled off and made feel cohesive.

Not that anything is really accomplished in the end or even happens. It is a study with a fine toot...more
Debbie Reschke Schug
It was my stint reading all the Nick Hornby novels I could find that started me reading Lorrie Moore books. I think she’s more of a short story writer, which I guess why this novel reads more like four separate pieces rather than a cohesive one.
“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
Ann Douglas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ian
It took me some time to warm to this novel, as the first pages try out alternative lives for the main characters, before settling on the one that progresses through the story. Benna Carpenter, thirty-something poetry teaching divorcee and her friend Gerard, night club pianist and would be opera singer. Don't be suckered by the clever wordplay of the smart one-liners that pepper the text: the humour has a wistful, melancholy aftertaste. This is about the fragility of the personalities that we bui...more
Marta
The narrative structure is clever and disarming, the sentences are precise and brilliant, the characters are loveable and heartbreaking. I couldnt put it down.

Favorite quote: "Basically, I realized, I was living in that awful stage of life from the age of twenty-six to thirty-seven known as stupidity. It's when you dont know anything, not even as much as you did when you were younger, and you dont even have a philosophy about all the things you dont know, the way you did when you were twenty or...more
Steph
Another brilliant piece of work by Lorrie Moore. I think this one is my favorite (so far) and that is saying a lot.

"She looked pink and beseeching, though essentially she looked the same, as people do despite the fact they have begun to turn into monsters and are about to tell you something that should require horns or fangs or vaulted eyebrows but never apparently does."

Exactly! "Exactly!" is what I tend to yell a lot while reading Lorrie's words. She's like a spy inside my head and soul.
Beccs
All year I've been frustrated by every new author I read. Whenever I find someone who has that magical way of weaving beautiful prose with compelling characters, the story itself is heavy and dark. I'm in a season of life, when I want lightness, brevity and quirkiness. Like if Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling wrote novels, I would be in literary heaven. Yet I also want stories to have insight and commentary about life presented in a thought provoking way. (Maybe I should be less picky? Nah.) I've found...more
anaïs
You know the simultaneous feeling of sad and happy that an airport gives you? That's this book in a nutshell. It reflects the weary while making you laugh harder than you expect to. It's ideal for lovers of language and puns, for those who prefer to deal with words and invent entire worlds in their head than deal with the inevitably disappointing reality of everyday life.
Tuck
love. could be related to hopelessness, walking on air, hate, 10 feet tall, friendship....everluving friendship, contentment, ulcers, lack of sleep, obsession, keith moon naked, or most probably voles/
i think this is lorrie moore's first novel and one can see how easy it is to fall in love with this writer.
Mimi
This starts out as a group of short stories with the same characters but in each the characters are completely different, then in the middle it becomes a long novella about the same characters. The play with language is a lot of fun,but the book ultimately is something of a downer
Uzma
Lorrie Moore can write. I can't believe this book is from 1986. I don't even know what to say. This book could make me feel completely heartbroken and depressed to making me laugh in a matter of sentences. I wish it hadn't ended. I want to own this
Cheryl
The teacher took a walk before her afternoon class. Near the campus were several old houses rented by some of FVCC's full-time students and from them blared radio jabber and stereo music. That is the difference between the young and the not-so-young, she thought. The young keep their windows open so that the world can fly in and out. By the time you hit your thirties, you're less hospitable; you start closing up the windows. You've had enough of the world; you have, you think, everything you nee...more
Vivian
My favorite novel of the summer. I've read it twice so far: once curled up on a sofa in my old apartment, once slouched under the covers in my Mom's guest room. The jokes are funnier the second time around.
Amanda
something about the way lorrie moore writes makes interacting with people in real life hollow and full of small tragedies.
Kaeleigh Forsyth
god...........,yes
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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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“I count too heavily on birthdays, though I know I shouldn't. Inevitably I begin to assess my life by them, figure out how I'm doing by how many people remember; it's like the old fantasy of attending your own funeral: You get to see who your friends are, get to see who shows up. ” 86 likes
“They had, finally, the only thing anyone really wants in life: someone to hold your hand when you die.” 58 likes
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