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Bark: Stories

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  6,110 Ratings  ·  916 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.
Kyle Smith Daniel Handler, the writer, won an auction bid (or something similar) to have his name featured in a Lorrie Moore story. Appropriately, in her story,…moreDaniel Handler, the writer, won an auction bid (or something similar) to have his name featured in a Lorrie Moore story. Appropriately, in her story, she named a masseur this.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan 19, 2014 Diana rated it liked it
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
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
I recently read a quote by Stephen King on the art of writing the short story. From memory it went something like this..."short stories are harder to write than a novel. You have to take the direct route, no side streets, no stopping to chat." And he is right.

I am ambivalent about these stories, a few seemed to me to have little or no point to them. Others I enjoyed immensely.

Broadly these stories are about human relationships and idiosyncrasies. How the things we love in a person can, over time
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Jan 06, 2017 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I think I'm hopelessly in love with Lorrie Moore.
Glenn Sumi
Feb 19, 2014 Glenn Sumi rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
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
Ayelet Waldman
Mar 23, 2014 Ayelet Waldman rated it it was amazing
When I want to remind myself how to write, I turn to Lorrie Moore.
Nicole D.
Feb 01, 2014 Nicole D. rated it it was ok

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
Jan 28, 2016 LeAnne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Holy smokes, Lorrie Moore is brilliant and sharp and as cutting as broken glass! I do not like short stories, one bit, but darned if I didn't love these ones. In fact, I enjoyed the audio (narrated by Moore, herself) so much that I'm going to buy a hard copy to go back over and enjoy.

This collection is about various characters in their middle age, with each having a date or spouse or significant other in the story with them. There is a sadness and disappointment in some of them, but not all, but
Mar 03, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
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.

Alan Chen
Feb 26, 2014 Alan Chen rated it it was amazing
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
Sara Nelson
Mar 06, 2014 Sara Nelson rated it really liked it
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
Jan Rice
Jun 17, 2015 Jan Rice rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, short-stories

The cover of the issue in which the book's title story, "Debarking," first appeared:

A while ago I read a review of Lorrie Moore's Bark that intrigued me: There was something about her short stories being populated with extraterrestrials. I must have thought there would be a touch of sci-fi. Maybe there is, but not in the sense that I was thinking. Some of the characters are almost reptilian, with other characters caught in their clutches. The word "extraterrestrial" actually is used twice. Wel
Mar 18, 2014 Paul rated it liked it
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
Nov 29, 2015 Matthew rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
According to Harper's Magazine, "Fifty years from now, it may well turn out that the work of very few American writers has as much to say about what it means to be alive in our time as that of Laurie Moore." In some regards, I agree with this statement. Moore's stories are peppered with references to 9/11 and the subsequent conflicts in the Middle East (neglecting, however, the preceding conflicts in the Middle East). Likewise, her stories are peppered with references to new technology, punctuat ...more
Apr 27, 2017 Krista rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories, 2017
Married for two decades of precious, precious life, she and Rafe seemed currently to be partners only in anger and dislike, their old lusty love mutated to rage. It was both the shame and the demise of them that hate like love could not live on air. And so in this, their newly successful project together, they were complicitous and synergistic. They were nurturing, homeopathic, and enabling. They spawned and raised their hate together, cardiovascularly, spiritually, organically. In tandem, as a
Jan 06, 2014 Alena rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
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
Diane S ☔
Aug 29, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
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
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
Total inspiration! I barely could get through this short collection of amazing short stories because I kept putting down the book and picking up a pen to write! What a dummy I was—I read these stories when I went to bed, and I ended up pulling several all-nighters. I’m too old for this! But I’m a pathetic amateur; I would kill to be able to write like her.

She makes me listen hard and play hard. Every sentence is unique and precise, lovely and wild. And the way she plays with words; she’s an acr
Mike W
Sep 09, 2014 Mike W rated it it was ok
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
La compañía y poco más puedo agradecer a una autora que no ha conseguido en nuestro primer contacto estar a la altura de las expectativas. Hay algo en la prosa de Moore que es de una calidad indiscutible, una suerte de experiencia vital acumulada filtrándose en cada página que impone y despierta la más absoluta reverencia. Como escritora, me interesa la amplitud y claridad de su mirada, su profundidad; no obstante, no siento el más mínimo aprecio hacia el lugar donde la enfoca. Ocho relatos teñi ...more
Mar 03, 2014 Edan rated it liked 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
Apr 14, 2014 Josh rated it did not like it
Shelves: short-stories
I really looked forward to this collection. I was let down, bored, preached to, and unimpressed. They were in my wheel house, but the stories felt too forced. Several of the stories had the plot needed, but they felt like rough drafts- perhaps an author's chance to fulfill a publisher's deadline. The asides and references placed to draw innuendo were too forced and distracted from my enjoyment. I get your leanings, I get your societal position- just work a little harder to keep me guessing.

I did
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
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
Dec 17, 2013 Leesa rated it liked it
The first was my favorite and I love Lorrie's writing although I didn't love the running thread of politics. (Characters going on and on abt how they feel re: politicians/policies.) I just don't really care abt politics, that's all and reading abt it really bores me. But I love and will always love Lorrie's writing/metaphors.
Jennifer Spiegel
Dec 18, 2013 Jennifer Spiegel rated it really liked it
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
Apr 02, 2017 David rated it really liked it
Moore is always worth reading and his collection is no exception. I still have a preference for Frog Hospital, but this is still some fine Moore work. You have to love her people. Her people always make the stories, these in particular.
Feb 06, 2014 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
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
Kathie Giorgio
Apr 04, 2014 Kathie Giorgio rated it liked it
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
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Lorrie Moore's stories - hit and miss? 4 17 Jul 05, 2014 12:29PM  
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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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“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.” 23 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.” 9 likes
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