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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  10,538 ratings  ·  863 reviews
In these tales of loss and pleasure, lovers and family, a woman learns to conduct an affair, a child of divorce dances with her mother, and a woman with a terminal illness contemplates her exit. Filled with the sharp humor, emotional acuity, and joyful language Moore has become famous for, these nine glittering tales marked the introduction of an extravagantly gifted write ...more
Paperback, 163 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by Vintage (first published March 12th 1985)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  10,538 ratings  ·  863 reviews

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Pick up this book. Worry that people who see you on your lunch break will think you're actually reading a self help book. Become instantly enamoured with the first story, How to be an Other Woman. Understand completely why David Sedaris drops everything for Lorrie Moore like a giggling fan-boy. Wish you'd written these stories first.

Cry at the second story, What is Seized. Be reminded of Billy Collins' poem "The Lanyard", except without the humour. Listen to Billy Collins read "The Lanyard" for
Sep 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who cry at puns
I can't remember which of her books it is, I think it's this one, in which a character observes: "This Danish is too Sweetish for me to Finnish!"

If you don't like that, you probably wouldn't like Lorrie Moore much.

And if you don't like Lorrie Moore, I probably wouldn't really like you.
Jessica Roy
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is so beautiful I can't even stand it.

Choice quotes:

"Cold men destroy women," my mother wrote me years later. "They woo them with something personable that they bring out for show, something annexed to their souls like a fake greenhouse, lead you in, and you think you see life and vitality and sun and greenness, and then when you love them, they lead you out into their real soul, a drafty, cavernous, empty ballroom, inexorably arched and vaulted and mocking you with its echoes--you hea
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recs, 2019
Empathetic and clever, Self-Help muses about broken pasts and turbulent presents. In her 1985 debut short story collection Moore lends a compelling voice to the frustrations and hopes of an eclectic bunch of women living in New York. Common themes (divorce, illness, affairs, motherhood) link together the nine tales, which collectively draw an impressionistic sketch of bourgeois life in the city on the eve of Manhattan's rapid gentrification. Favorites include "How to Be an Other Woman," "Go Like ...more
Sidik Fofana
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SIX WORD REVIEW: To think, she was twenty five.
Jul 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008-read, 2021-read
You pick up Lorrie Moore’s collection of short stories called Self-Help because you’ve always admired her writing. Plus, your own writing is often compared to hers. Not because you are a master of the form, like Moore, but more because your short stories are peppered with a sort of sad and self-deprecating humor.

What you love about reading short story collections over short story anthologies is that you can pick up the threads that move throughout the stories. Moore has a thing for opera singers
Stephanie Sun
Oct 03, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: dead-tree, debuts
“Meet in expensive raincoats, on a pea-soupy night.”

So begins the first story of Lorrie Moore’s first book, most of which she wrote as an M.F.A. student at Cornell University. Eight words, none of which would tax the vocabulary of a fifth-grader, and yet all of the signature elements that Moore built her award-winning career on are there: the fledgling attempts at urbanity so fragile they must be spelled out (“expensive raincoats”), the perfectly failed eloquence (“pea-soupy”), and the self-
Carmel Hanes
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not your usual short story collection, beginning with the prose style chosen in several of the stories (use of imperative sentences). While effective at creating an interesting narrative, the result was a group of stories that kept me at an emotional distance. If you like to sink your teeth and heart into characters, this might not be a style that appeals to you. The stories using a more traditional style were more enjoyable to me.

That said, the stories did offer much food for thought an
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This was my first Lorrie Moore collection, and I really truly enjoyed it. However, I wasn't expecting the stories to be so brutally depressing - although there was a great amount of tongue-in-cheek humour throughout the collection (Moore has a truly biting wit), the subjects of the stories in question are not ideal for picking up if you are in a tired or low headspace.

Moore's writing is jaunty and staccato, her prose biting, and she covers a myriad of topics in this collection - everything from
Tristan Yi
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was a lyrical masterpiece of interconnecting words, meanings, and emotions. It was the cat's pajamas--that is, if the cat had just broken up with her boyfriend and stayed at home watching old Ingrid Bergman movies, getting over it by darkly observing the world and making the saddest jokes a cat will ever meow. That is an example of an overextended metaphor and is not that accurate in describing the amazing, heartbreaking soulfulness that is this book.

It's funny, sad, dark, and upliftin
Kristopher Jansma
Apr 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookblog

Years ago I read Lorrie Moore's excellent Who Will Run the Frog Hospital for a grad school class (on memoirs?) and I have been a fan ever since. Every so often I will run across one of her essays or stories and find myself in stitches, although her humor almost always comes with a healthy dose of irony or solemnity to keep it from being a pure laugh fest. This semester I began my Creative Writing course with an out loud, round-the-class, reading of an essay (which turns out to be from Self-Help)
Jessica Draper
Sep 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
The blurbs and reviews on this one praised its author's sense of humor and great writing style, but I should've paid more attention to the mentions of her ability to pick out the poignant, heartbreaking moments we all share--apparently, that means parents' divorce, bad relationships, and general inability to make good choices. Yes, she's very good at description, and can turn a nice phrase. "How to Be an Other Woman" caught me with evocative imagery and a cynical but true take on what it's like ...more
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
BA from Lawrence College
MFA from Cornell University
At the time of this book she was probably an Assistant Professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1976 she was awarded first prize in the Seventeen magazine short story contest (she was ~19 at the time).
In review of two books of hers including Self-Help Vince Passaro says this in Harper's (August 1999): Two particular features...make her stories fundamentally different from the mainstream books of short fiction then being published: her c
Sep 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, 2009
I'm having a hard time finding something to say about this collection except that I loved it. I'll soon be picking up Like Life, I think, as well as trying to learn more about Moore herself. I'm curious to know how autobiographical her writing is, because the emotions in each story just ring so true. Of course, that's what a good writer does -- taps into the commonality of human experience and shows us that we are not alone.

I really enjoyed the way Moore played with tense and point of view to t
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
Lorrie Moore has a talent with words and poetic images, but the stories in this collection were so depressing. I only loved the first one, about the woman who becomes a mistress, I found it beautifully done and deserving a high rating, but the others weren’t my cup of tea. My 2 stars rating is the inadequate but necessary average.
Jul 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Every single short story I wrote in my undergrad creative writing workshops was a ripoff of Lorrie Moore in some way. I'm sure I'm not the only one. ...more
Joan Winnek
With much respect for Moore's compelling writing, I have found these stories difficult. I guess I am
psychologically too vulnerable.
Nov 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
A quick read. I liked the first few stories best, but it may be because the later ones seemed to reiterate the early ones: there is not a lot of range in this collection, and the tone and style got old. There are some gems in here, though: reading "How," a story about a woman falling out of love, was an uncomfortable and devastatingly familiar experience. The following passage slayed me:
Pace around the kitchen and say that you are unhappy.

But I love you, he will say in his soft, bewildered way,
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 rounded up
Leo Robertson
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was getting worried that my reading pace dropped to only 3 books a week!!! Because I'm reading the collected stories of Ms Moore for one, along with a number of other tomes, but I read this book within that book so it defo counts!!

(Man, now that the winter's over, I took an Easter break and haven't had alcohol since Xmas, my motivation and productivity are through the roof! Who knew that if you looked after yourself, your mental health would improve? I also have totally embraced my own self/st
I discovered Lorrie Moore only recently in fact, but I'm certain the timing is just right, any younger I wouldn't have really 'got' her. It's like reading Scott Adams' God's Debris when you're sixteen, or something comparable to that.
I discovered Lorrie Moore while listening to the audio book of The Best American Short Stories Of The Century edited by John Updike. She was reading her story, You're Ugly Too.
I was immediately sold.

Now comes the hard part: I'm not so good at reviewing books that
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love so many things about Lorrie Moore (one of them being her unique, wry sense of humor), but I think my favorite thing is her ability to take me so deeply into a metaphor, I almost forget what we were talking abt. Almost. She is my favorite metaphorist. Her books are like textbooks to me. One of my faves from this collection: "Cold men destroy women," my mother wrote me years later. "They woo them with something personable that they bring out for show, something annexed to their souls like a ...more
Felicia Edens
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
The title of Lorrie Moore’s book of short stories, Self-Help, is especially striking today when being happy and carefree is pretty much “advertised” to us, not only by self-help books but by a constant flow of signage posted on social media (particularly motivational quotes), also as images of normalcy are shown to us as those being full of smiles and radiating positivity (shown especially by magazines and on television). There is also the influx of artwork with inspirational sayings on them pla ...more
Garlan ✌
A mind like a saber, razor sharp and sure. In these nine stories, Lorrie Moore chronicles the off kilter relations between men and women, using wit and cynicism to dissect their day to day lives. She commands a wonderful use of the language that reflects her unique understanding of the human condition. This is a small collection of great stories.

In “How to Be an Other Woman” the protagonist reflects on her relationship with a married man -
“When you were six you thought mistress meant to put yo
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How to write a stunning collection of short stories that turns the self-help genre on its head, exposing the delusions and vacuity of easy self-improvement strategies while simultaneously capturing deeply human fears and longings:

1) Be a writer named Lorrie Moore. Write nine short stories and group them in a collection called Self-Help. Publish it as your debut in 1985.

2) Parody the tactics of self-help manuals and be inspired by the precepts of Oulipo literature, finding freedom and a breath of
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved the first story, which felt perfectly executed, though I think some of the features that so won me over with this first story - the focus on wordplay, the interesting use of the imperative/second person point of view, the polished integration of recurring elements - felt less fresh/noteworthy when it appeared in other stories. Moore has a powerful, engaged wit, which she lends to her protagonists (generally women of dubious mental health or women who are in compromising circum ...more
Vincent Scarpa
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I just really like Lorrie Moore. I think there's tons of valid criticism to be made about this book, and even she herself has called the stories "chock full of mistakes of judgement and taste and sensibility," but I admire this collection. It's bold— in style, in presentation, in form. The three longest stories are in the 1st or 3rd person, but the rest are all in the 2nd person, which I tend to disagree means "instructive you," even if the titles begin with "How to..." There's something to be s ...more
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This collection still seems as innovative and inventive as it did when I first read it in ’85. Her “How to…” stories had such a spark of originality about them that stylistically they couldn’t be copied. Second person point of view feels fresh again. Of course it’s not just the POV. She combines that with a unique syntax that makes ordinary words fresh. And the ironic and sarcastic humor, a loose mask for an incredible bitterness, a bitterness that really only comes out in the humor. In her late ...more
Lindsay Andros
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Compelling and often heart-wrenching stories that work together perfectly as a collection, with characters and scenarios popping up in one story that were mentioned briefly previously. These stories were written thirty years ago, but were still powerful enough to make me want to call my mother and tell her I love her. Though they are typical in their topics, they are very atypical in their telling: second-person, how-to-style manuals. Very intriguing and unique.
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
This collection of short stories is like having a hug from your best friend when you're crying then suddenly it's a slap and she's telling you to 'stop being a whiny little shit'. In the best possible way. It's like Lorrie Moore has lived a thousand different lives as a thousand different women, its tender and cathartic and cold and shrewd. I love it. ...more
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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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“That is what is wrong with cold people. Not that they have ice in their souls - we all have a bit of that - but that they insist every word and deed mirror that ice. They never learn the beauty or value of gesture. The emotional necessity. For them, it is all honesty before kindness, truth before art. Love is art, not truth. It's like painting scenery.” 134 likes
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