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Like Life

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  4,249 ratings  ·  286 reviews
In Like Life's eight exquisite stories, Lorrie Moore's characters stumble through their daily existence. These men and women, unsettled and adrift and often frightened, can't quite understand how they arrived at their present situations. Harry has been reworking a play for years in his apartment near Times Square in New York. Jane is biding her time at a cheese shop in a M ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 3rd 2002 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,249 ratings  ·  286 reviews

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Bill  Kerwin
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories

Are you the kind of person who has a sarcastic sense of humor but find yourself surrounded by people who can't seem to get the joke? If so, you might really like this book.

These are bleak, funny stories about lost people, written in a brisk, colloquial prose that sparkles with a wit that never masks the desperation of the characters' disorganized lives. The typical story features an East Coast intellectual woman marooned in the Midwest, using irony to defend herself in an environment impervious
May 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Richard Yates, Todd Hasak-Lowy
I like this book.

I have read this book many times. I do not read it that much anymore. A lot of it is annoying to me now but I read it many times before. I read some of the stories maybe 10 times.

I feel like Lorrie Moore worked a lot harder and longer and with more agony in her face while editing than anyone else I have read, for short stories.
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it

Each book I've read of Lorrie Moore's slides me even closer to unconditional love. (okay, not yet reaching for hyperbole like "she can transcribe the Phone Book and I'd read it" but pretty close). From sentence construction that sets off Pavlovian salivation to her ability of taking mundane, random life moments and transforming them into something universally relevant, Ms. Moore's made my "Must Read Anything of Hers" list. Six of the 8 stories of her Like Life were a joy, though because it was s
Paul Bryant
Sep 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Adam Mars-Jones has this to say about LM:

"The dominant influence on American short fiction when Moore started publishing was the stoic minimalism of Raymond Carver, the recovering binger's pledge of: 'One sentence at a time.' She escaped that influence, and was spared the struggle of throwing it off, but its underlying principle of whittling away excess is something her stories badly need. A Lorrie Moore story can sometimes be like a schoolroom full of precocious kids, every sentence raising bot
Emalie Soderback
May 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is an inspiration in it’s quiet deliverance of realistic characters. Constructed of eight short stories about the loveliness and heartache in the smallest most trite life experiences, it was compelling and I busted through it nonstop. This created an obsession with reading as many books of hers as I could get ahold of, as is evident in my reading list for 2008; I admire her style so much.

"Moore dances around the edges of broken relationships with a delicacy that expresses both despair,
lyn straine
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
Lorrie Moore is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I have a big collection of her short stories on order from Amazon, but I was glad to see this smaller, early collection hiding in the library (most places only carry Birds of America). Her writing is so poignant, incisive and witty, with such precise and startling figures of speech--I both love it and hate it at the same time, because I know I'll never achieve what she manages to in prose. Moore's gifts are luminous; that rare person who c ...more
Connor O'Brien
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
i read this book while i was backpacking through europe, the stories are very funny and also very depressing.
Ellen Noonan
Like her other story collections, this one is piercing, sad, funny, and not a single page goes by without an observation or turn of phrase worth reading over again.
Feb 18, 2009 rated it liked it
I have to give this collection three stars because Lorrie Moore's writing is just that good; no matter what her subject matter, at the very least, I always enjoy hearing her voice and encountering her narrative structures. However, it's a somewhat mean-spirited collection. Almost all of the characters are women displaced from the East Coast to the Midwest, who seem not necessarily unable to understand midwestern culture so much as unwilling to even attempt to, and because of this I often find my ...more
Jun 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
she is the best. these stories' voices change too, from super modern like joe meno or ben ehrenreich to old fashioned like john cheever or ozick. here's a quote "....and left the apartment to roam the streets again, to find an open newsstand, a safe coffee shop that didn't put a maraschino cherry on the rice pudding, so that even when you picked it off its mark remained, soaked in, like blood by Walt Disney."

Anne Sanow
Feb 08, 2008 rated it liked it
I know this is supposed to be everyone's "early"-Moore favorite, but it just isn't mine. The much-anthologized "You're Ugly, Too" is fine--not brilliant, sorry, but perfectly fine--but I find many of the others to have a weird kind of rage or self-hatred or insecurity or something boiling up from within that gives them a sour tone. Moore harnesses all that said rage/self-hatred/insecurity to better effect elsewhere, I think.

Leo Robertson
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it

2 1/2 years since last time?! Scary.

Think I thought I'd understand these stories better on a re-read. But while they make interesting points, they're also obliquely oblique. How annoying!

First review:

I knew I was going to love this one. Which I guess is why I avoided reading it for so long. I don't think I like guaranteed pleasers!

What We Life When We Love About Like
Mar 06, 2017 marked it as not-now
I'm going to describe a certain metaphorical school. This school is metaphorical, not actual, yet being metaphorical, it is also immaterial, and thus it could be anywhere, in anything, and thus it can sometimes be found in actual schools. It can even be found in phenomena, such as the phenomenon known as reading-many-literary-fiction-magazines-and-wanting-to-be-a-writer. It can even haunt certain genres; it is the devil hiding in the genre known (and gnowm) as literary fiction.

It is a dreadful s
Stephanie Sun
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dead-tree
“Zoë came up, slow, from behind and gave him a shove.”

The fourth story in Like Life, “You’re Ugly, Too,” is most likely Lorrie Moore’s most anthologized story. It would be interesting to try to estimate how many people worldwide own at least three copies of it. It has been printed, for instance, in: (1) Like Life; (2) The New Yorker magazine in 1989; (3) The New Yorker’s 2000 anthology of New York stories Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker; (4) the Best American series’ 2000
Emma Bolden
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am already regretting only giving this collection four stars, and will probably change that soon. I didn't love this as much as Self-Help and Birds of America, but it's a stunning book. I think my main sticking point with it is the title story -- I couldn't really figure out why or how it was set in The Future. Then again, I have very serious ideas about setting a story in The Future -- I feel like The Future needs to be absolutely necessary to the plot. If this story were set in 1988, it woul ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
To me, this wasn't as strong a collection as Moore's debut collection Self Help was. Although Moore writes about similar themes as in her first collection, I felt that this particular collection of short stories was lacking a lot of the humour that her first collection had. As a result, to me this collection had a much more hopeless feeling, which at times made it harder to get through.

To me, the highlights in this collection were Vissi D'Arte, Joy, and the title story Like Life. There are only
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
If you are the kind of person who likes 'stories' that do not have a beginning, middle and an end, you might like this collection. They just start and stop. This isn't a criticism as much as it is a preference. I prefer a more traditional format. There is no debate that Lorrie Moore writes exquisitely. I actually wrote down a quote from one of the stories and I haven't done that since I can remember. I thought this was keenly insightful and I don't want to lose her exact phrasing:

" There are onl
Joan Colby
Apr 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Remarkable early stories by the vaunted Moore. Her ability with language and her aptitude for changing voice according to the narrative's needs are exceptional. The well regarded story "You're Ugly, Too" has a protagonist with a distinctive ironic style that is captivating.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
1993 notebook: a long flirtation on trains and buses with Lorrie Moore's 'Like life', wicked, funny, sad, deep, just great stories. Good place to read them too, commuting among so many different people with different plans and ambitions.
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read this on the train home mainly
the platform is made of wooden planks on some of the parts
i think i only have anagrams to read now maybe
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Love. Love. Love Moore. Her writing is rich and complicated in all the right kind of ways. And her language is fresh and vivid.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed. I decided to read all of Moore’s work this summer, because I so enjoyed the verbal pyrotechnics of Self-Help and Anagrams. Like Life has many of the same types of people, but in a much more minor key. They tend to live in their heads and have terrible trouble connecting with others on any level. The best story is “The Jewish Hunter,” about the romance between a midwestern Jewish lawyer and a visiting poet who thinks she’s too good to be in the Midwest. Her relationship with h ...more
[1990] One of my favorite authors. Eight stories of people fumbling their way through life. Sometimes dark, sometimes funny, always real. Beautifully written. Her descriptions are super-vivid and not...not obvious. "She couldn't even say when the love between them had begun to sicken, how long it had been gasping drearily over its own grave of rage and obligation." Or this one: "Usually she ordered a cup of coffee and a cup of tea, as well as a brownie, propping up her sadness with chocolate and ...more
Nov 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lorrie moore fans, people who are bored & dissatisfied, aspiring short story writers
full disclosure: i really like lorrie moore's books, but i can't always tell one from the other. is this the one that is all in second-person? i don't think so. i think this is some other one. is this even a novel, or is it short stories? i can't remember. she should get her publishing house to spruce up the covers of her books a little more so i can tell them apart. basically, the four stars come from the consistent strength of moore as a writer. you can pick up anything she has written & i ...more
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Moore is amazing. She's able to weave in and out of the empty gaps of people's lives and put down markers on her pages as stories. Without naming them, she simply points out the little aches that we don't know what to call and taps you on the back and says, "There, there." Sure, it's not a cure, and certainly, awareness doesn't solve anything, and neither does a tap on the back, but it's something and that something should count; if only to show that others, too, have those same nameless gaps an ...more
Vivienne Strauss
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
one of the funniest bits to me from the title story:

People with money would spend six dollars on a cocktail for themselves but not eighty cents toward a draft beer for a guy with a shirt like that. Rudy would return home with enough cash for one new brush, and with that new brush would paint a picture of a bunch of businessmen sodomizing farm animals. "The best thing about figure painting," he liked to say, "is deciding what everyone will wear."
Vincent Scarpa
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed revisiting this collection after a few years. "You're Ugly, Too," is still Lorrie Moore at her absolute best. Also continue to love "The Jewish Hunter" and "Starving Again." The title story I still can't quite get my arms around; it's quite bizarre and resists interpretation, I think.
Do you live alone? Is your tub overflowing with sewage? How many cats do you own? Are they ill? You enjoy puns, right? Do you live above a butcher shop? Are you in love with two boys at once, but can't pick which you love more? Is someone you know very ill? Is a British boy living in your absent daughter's room? Well?
Tom McDade
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-fiction
Stories I liked best, "Joy" and "Places to Look for Your Mind."

Samples of her find writing:

She handed him her fliers. He put them down in a pile near the rhinoceros paperweight, and he slid his hand down his face like a boy with a squeegee. She stood and kissed his ear, which was a delicate thing, a sea creature with the wind of her kiss trapped inside.”

“‘Mom, this lady has a cat too.’ She called to her mother but it was her brother who came up and stood beside her. The two of them stuck their t
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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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