This novel(la?) actually rather surprised me, because I hadn't heard a great deal of praise for Moore's novels in comparison to her short fiction. The...moreThis novel(la?) actually rather surprised me, because I hadn't heard a great deal of praise for Moore's novels in comparison to her short fiction. There are differences, yes, here from the shorter work--seems to me particularly in the more ponderous pacing, the infrequency of laugh out loud humor, the more poetic or lyric prose. So I suppose in that sense, it's not as self-evidently "Lorrie Moore" as perhaps people want it to be. But I thought it was a lovely novel! With or without some of those trademarks--and I have little need for authors to constantly replicate particularities of their other work--this novel dealt in a stunning poignancy that always gets to me; the passage of time, nostalgia for childhood, the disappointment we experience when we realize how each successive year tends to minimize the sense of possibility. In this way, the novel has more in common with Proust, say, than with Moore's contemporaries. Sils & Berie as characters actually felt as if they could have fallen from an Alice Munro story--so finally the comparisons between Moore and Munro make some hazy sense to me. And I don't mean they're derivative, but that there's a quality to Munro's small towns in Canada that resonate with Horsehearts here, and the way that these characters grapple with broad experiences--abortion, girlhood friendships, loss, poverty, marriage--still feels always incredibly particularized. The stories aren't new and are not trying to be, but that quality of precision and subtlety in what sets these two girls apart from all others undergoing similar experience--that, as in all of Munro's work, feels v masterful here.
That's not to say there's no flaw here. The pacing could have been tighter; the ending was beautiful but over familiar; the prose is different and often beautiful but not as sharp as she usually tends to be--in a way that feels like lyrical and more as if Moore was filling space. But don't be scared by the fact that people claim Moore isn't a "novelist." In many ways, this is just an extra long story of hers, and it's really actually quite a treat.(less)
I read this in a sitting on the bus between Boston & NYC yesterday. I'm giving it four, because I recognize that I can appreciate something about...moreI read this in a sitting on the bus between Boston & NYC yesterday. I'm giving it four, because I recognize that I can appreciate something about it intellectually that I think would serve me better were I reading it for a graduate seminar. But because I was simply reading it for pleasure, it didn't necessarily connect with me on that level. The prose is stunning, it really is (of course, it's translated, so I'm sure I also lost something of the French). But for a book about desire & eroticism, it really didn't much turn me on. Which isn't required, of course, but I suppose it just felt a bit inert for me. And then sudden threads emerging near the end--namely, her younger brother's "immortality," which she goes on and on and on and on about--seemed tangential, to draw away from this deeply felt sexual relationship between the young white girl (who was already old--what an interesting image Duras opens the book with) & the Chinese man, who is so despised by her family.
Anyway, point is. Beautiful--it v much reminded me of Hiroshima, Mon Amour--but was missing the element of visual charisma, chemistry--it truly felt like it would have impacted more profoundly as a film. But I'll definitely be interested in reading more Duras. Hopefully even in the original French, if I ever stop being such a lazy bitch.(less)
Flimsy send up of the modernists who supported Hemingway in his time in Paris. Sherwood Anderson is, I guess, the main one, but I see some Stein &...moreFlimsy send up of the modernists who supported Hemingway in his time in Paris. Sherwood Anderson is, I guess, the main one, but I see some Stein & Joyce in there too. Eh. I don't know--it's kind of like, how are you going to satirize the elitism of these people in so particular a way that people who don't know these authors and their bodies of work can't access the parody? Isn't that, too, elitist? My book club mostly didn't, for example, have a lot of background in Hemingway's source texts (and I don't know Anderson at all), so they read it more as a straight narrative & had really interesting responses to it in that regard. But I find it flimsy as its own entity and thin as a parody, either way. And I kind of hate Hemingway, excepting In Our Time, so...why am I still writing this? Ugh, minutes wasted.(less)