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Bark: Stories

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  4,081 ratings  ·  707 reviews
In these eight masterful stories, Lorrie Moore, in a perfect blend of craft and bewitched spirit, explores the passage of time, and summons up its inevitable sorrows and hilarious pitfalls to reveal her own exquisite, singular wisdom.

In "Debarking," a newly divorced man tries to keep his wits about him as the United States prepares to invade Iraq, and against this ominous
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Knopf (first published 2014)
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Jenny Self-Help was the first one I read and so will always define her to me.

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Did something bad happen to Lorrie Moore? I don't need to read things that are uplifting. I am not set on having characters that are likable. But this collection was so dark, it left me feeling kind of horrible. This is a collection of stories that looked into the crawl space to find what was rotting there (figuratively, and in one story in this book, literally. I might suggest that if you read this collection, you should consider skipping the half-page after the flashlight is presented and the ...more
Glenn Sumi
Lorrie Moore has achieved short-story sainthood in books like Self-Help, Like Life and her 1998 masterpiece, Birds Of America. But even her greatest devotees will find her latest collection, her first in over 15 years, woefully uneven.

Moore, with her poet’s eye and playful use of language, has always been able to find a savage, dark humour in pain and heartbreak. And there are glimpses of that in these eight stories, in which people, in the shadow of 9/11, confront divorce, illness and death wit
Alan Chen
I've been a fan with Lorrie Moore since I picked up her first short story collection in the 90s. I very much admire someone that can write in this form because it's difficult to capture so much in such a short number of pages and Moore is a master at it. I find the two long pieces to be most enjoyable. The first deals with an aging divorcee trying to begin dating again and the second deals with a woman at a crossroads after the failure of her music career looking to end things with her boyfriend ...more
Nicole Del sesto

This is a super short book of short stories, that felt more than anything like a hard drive dump. It's like the publisher said "How many have you got?" and Moore said "8 or so, but some of them are pretty old" and the publisher said, "I can work with that, send them over" and thus we have a book.

That's not to say there aren't nuggets of pure Moore brilliance in this book. There are many. She's a great writer and she can hit the nail squarely on the head! How could someone have come so close to
Ayelet Waldman
When I want to remind myself how to write, I turn to Lorrie Moore.
Apr 09, 2014 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
First I'll just voice my irritation upon leaving the bookstore and learning I'd just shelled out $30 for a sub-200-page book. That's okay, though, it's got a nice Carol Devine Carson jacket and it's a new Lorrie Moore collection, so it's definitely worth the money. Until, of course, I discovered that the first four (of a total eight) stories had already been published in her Collected Stories collection, which I already own and have read. So in essence I've just paid $30 for half of a 200-page b ...more
When I was studying for my MFA in Creative Writing (which is longer ago than I want to remember), Lorrie Moore was the golden goddess whose prose and sensibility almost every fiction grad student wanted to emulate. We prostrated ourselves before her devastating humor, her effortless wordplay, her skewering of every late 20th-century pretension. Once when I met her at a reading, I think I freaked her out by being too adoring. Most writers would have been thrilled, but Moore is not most writers.

Sara Nelson
There’s a reason Lorrie Moore is so beloved by her baby boomer brethren: she’s smart, she’s funny, her eye is even sharper than her tongue. In Bark, her latest collection of stories, all those qualities are well on display. “He had never been involved with the mentally ill before,” she writes of her mid-life anti-hero in the (sort-of) title story, "Debarking." "[B]ut he now felt more than ever that there should be strong international laws against them being too good looking.” Acerbic? Check. K ...more
I really did not like this story collection, but I had to go with 2 stars based on the quality of the writing, which is often brilliant. Once again, I have finished reading Lorrie Moore and wondered why her work does not appeal to me at all. Instead of feeling engaged and satisfied and moved, I feel like I've just gotten off a roller coaster. I went for a crazy ride, zig-zagged and looped, but in the end I got nowhere and have a slight headache.

"Living did not mean one joy piled upon another. It
I can't decide what I think of this. I may give it another star tomorrow, in a year, a decade. I loved the structure and the unexpected, unresolved endings to so many of these. Other times, though, I felt like the characters were quite thin, or that whole interactions were merely set-ups for a particular joke. Moore suffers from having an army of copycats, so that her unique voice sounds weirdly stale at times; it's too often imitated, which of course is not her fault. There is a bitterness to t ...more
Diane S.
A wonderful grouping of eight short stories, the first by this author in many years. I liked all of them, I really do not have a favorite, don't think that has happened before. They are all such a mixture of social and political commentary, many with laugh out loud moments and others with pithy witticisms. She does a masterful job exposing the flaws in her characters and doing it in such a way that they find acceptance, oddities and all.The strange becomes the reality or the norm.

Brilliant colle
Mike Williams
Bark is what you get when you combine midlife crises with nasty divorces, mental illnesses, and healthy doses of nihilism, sprinkled with a dated angst for the Bush administration.

Don't get me wrong, Lorrie Moore is an excellent writer, and each story in the collection contains moments of brilliant prose. But this book is proof that sometimes even good writing cannot save an uninteresting story, and in this collection, it failed in nearly every case.

I have no doubt that Moore is probably a very
Rebecca Foster
From what I’ve heard from other critics (e.g. Philip Hensher’s somewhat harsh Guardian review), this really wasn’t the best place for me to be introduced to Moore’s short stories. My only prior experience with Moore’s writing was one story in an anthology about libraries (In the Stacks) and the decent novel A Gate at the Stairs – probably her least representative book.

I enjoyed the collection well enough, but some of the stories did feel rather thin, and also a bit dated – predicting Obama’s el
Kasa Cotugno
Lorrie Moore has such a knack with the short story. She nails the situation in the first sentence, and goes from there. Some of the stories seem too abrupt in closure, but reveals another side of today's world from the norm. Characters are painted in broad strokes, jump off the page early and keep going. There are moments that cause a bark of laughter (for me, that's the reason for the title, even if she didn't intend it to be so). As with any collection, some stories stayed with me longer than ...more
Ann Douglas
It feels wrong to give a book by Lorrie Moore anything less than five stars (she is one of my all-time favourite short fiction writers), but most of the stories in this collection simply fell flat for me.

That said, I loved "Referential" (which focuses on the fallout from a child's mental illness).

And I will never forget the graphic rat king image in "Wings." (I remember reading this story when it was first published in The Paris Review. That rat king image has stayed with me all this time -- a
Kathie Giorgio
When I saw this book was being released, I didn't hesitate for a moment. I pre-ordered and was delighted when it finally showed up at my door. I've always enjoyed Moore's short stories, much more than I've enjoyed her novels. Her collection, "Self Help", is one that I use often when I teach.

The first thing I noticed when I cracked open this book was the length of many of the stories. There are only 8 stories in this 192-page volume. This sent up a red flag for me - Moore's stories have always b
Hank Stuever
Trademark Lorrie Moore, with extra emphasis on the segue into the AARP realm. I'm a big fan from way back, but "Bark" is an uneven batch of stories -- a brilliant sentence or two or three hidden in each one -- and, like all Lorrie Moore stories, they are stories in which people are gifted with the ability to say the things we all think of saying (or wished we had said) long after the moment we needed our tongue and brain and courage to function optimally. The characters in a Lorrie Moore story n ...more
Jennifer Spiegel
This originally appeared at on my blog, "Bosco's Going Down."


I begin with a true confession. I love many, many authors. Prior to publication of my books, I fantasized about getting blurbs on the back—investing the blurb process with weighty importance. There were a number of excellent candidates, but I envisioned the perfect blurb from that special someone. But I wanted more than a blurb; I wanted a fan. Not just a fan, but a compatriot: an ideal reader, someone who w
Animal Instincts

Moore is one of the most extraordinary writers working today. Rather than talk about the individual stories in this short collection I’d like to attempt to describe what makes her unique. She’s an excellent wordsmith yet often writes in fragments rather than full sentences. This helps her tap into how we currently speak and our disjointed thought patterns. Her writing can seem illogical and errant as well as fall on the floor funny and at the same time tragic. As you might guess
Claudia Putnam
I received an uncorrected ARC as a First Reads giveaway.

Torn. I think it's more like 3.5 stars, but the writing is so spectacular in places it's well worth the read. Moore is the mistress black humor. I laughed out loud. I dogeared half the book, and I even think I might need to change a story of mine because she already wrote it. (Good thing I read this book; what if I hadn't?) The issue is that a lot of the stories feel more like vehicles for great lines and sharp observations than like storie
Mi taglierei una mano per poter scrivere come Lorrie Moore. Ho adorato questi racconti per come sono scritti e per come le parole mi stanno rimanendo appiccicate, per come le storie mi stanno girovagando nello stomaco, senza andarsene. Quello che non mi torna - e forse è troppo presto per avere una risposta, avendo finito questo libro oggi - è dove voleva portarmi l'autrice, cosa voleva farmi vedere davvero e cosa voleva dirmi. Lo intuisco, ma non lo riesco a scrivere, non lo riuscirei a spiegar ...more
Reading this book was my treat for surviving winter quarter and getting grades in on time. I even left it in its Amazon packaging until grades were in. Lorrie Moore doesn't disappoint. The novella/stories in this book are darker than many of the ones in Birds of America, and the collection feels more grounded and cohesive because of the time stamp of the beginnings of the Iraq War that shadow each story. Just beautiful work. Once again, I wish I could write stories like this.
Jeff Buddle
Because Lorrie Moore is considered by both critics and myself as one of our premiere practitioners of the short story, I feel somewhat responsible for the fact that was I was underwhelmed by this slim volume of 8 stories. Am I missing something?

Four out of the eight stories were fantastic, up to her exacting standards: wise, mordant, observant, satirical and always able to cut right through a character's knitting to show us how he or she unravels. The other 4 felt sparse, slow, overly familiar,
It is exactly what you think, and therefore perfect.

The first story really knocked my socks off.

Highly recommened.
Lorrie Moore is an outstanding short story writer. I fell in love with her when I read “Birds of America.” I still think of her as a remarkable writer, however, this selection of stories is on the darker side, and it’s a little difficult to laugh at some of the situations. My favorite was “Thank You for Having Me,” which features a single (cynical) mother who attends the wedding of her daughter’s former babysitter, along with her 15-year old. It’s the bride’s second marriage and ironically her f ...more
A literary event. Both the publisher and Goodreads say so. This means that Lorrie Moore is a darling of the upper middlebrow literary book reviewing crowd, the ones who write for publications with New York in the titles, so they were all poised to write a super-review before the book came out. And why not? Lorrie Moore is an irresistibly quotable writer, so that reviews of her books tend to write themselves. She is as fascinated with word play as Joyce and Nabokov, which was the hallmark of bein ...more
Rhonda Cutler
The stories display Moore's usual wit, and are, at times, poignant, their poignancy heightened by her skillful use of humor. Despite this, only two of the stories drew me in emotionally - Foes and Thank You For Having Me, both of which I thought were terrific. I found the other 6 stories in this collection, while pleasant enough reading, largely forgettable. Moore's weaving in of 21st century geopolitical events, which I believe she did to underscore the anomie, isolation, etc of her protagonist ...more
Eleanor Levine
I'm over Lorrie Moore. Her cleverness throughout these stories does not suffice--I need some more friggen heart, babe. The references to Iraq, Michael Jackson and Robert Louis Stevenson do not sustain me. While Loorie Moore is, in some ways, a most stylish and easy-to-read and engaging writer, the subject matter doesn't quite dig at much. After recently reading Flannery O'Connor, I'm even more disappointed. "Debarking" was likely my favorite of these stories--the first of its r ...more
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did, she cries perennially.

Maybe it's the kind of book better read in January, coming off the high of the holidays, than in late March when I'm desperately hoping for some evidence of the fledgling arrival of spring (will winter ever end?) -- in January I would've given it four stars, probably. There's no denying that the prose is sharp, funny, and typically Moore, with her ability to make the most mundane-sounding observations of staggering truth
There is no doubt that Lorrie Moore is a stellar writer, but somehow her stories always give me a sad feeling, leave me feeling dark and creeped out, and not in a fun way. This collection is short and un-sweet, with Moore's familiar take on a cold, Midwestern, female Woody Allen-esque set of characters going through the trials of divorce, aging, child-rearing, academia and death. "The Juniper Tree" is creepy, clever and intriguing. I really loved "Wings" with its length and complexity, but I als ...more
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Lorrie Moore's stories - hit and miss? 4 13 Jul 05, 2014 12:29PM  
  • Thunderstruck & Other Stories
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  • The Unamericans: Stories
  • Starting Over
  • Honeydew: Stories
  • The Best American Short Stories 2013
  • The Color Master: Stories
  • The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories
  • Bobcat and Other Stories
  • The Collected Stories
  • American Innovations: Stories
  • The Other Language
  • Leaving the Sea
  • Sunstroke and Other Stories
  • Gryphon: New and Selected Stories
  • Nine Inches: Stories
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
More about Lorrie Moore...
A Gate at the Stairs Birds of America Self-Help Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? Like Life

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“A woman had to choose her own particular unhappiness carefully. That was the only happiness in life: to choose the best unhappiness. An unwise move, good God, you could squander everything.” 11 likes
“Living did not mean one joy piled upon another. It was merely the hope for less pain, hope played like a playing card upon another hope, a wish for kindnesses and mercies to emerge like kings and queens in an unexpected change of the game. One could hold the cards oneself or not: they would land the same regardless.” 7 likes
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