Boy, I needed this. After a run of books that disappointed me, what a treat to dive into one that I could love. Not surprising that it's by short-story master Lorrie Moore, but what perhaps is surprising is how she keeps getting better and better and better.
Moore has always had an acerbic wit, but she does an exemplary job here in using it to serve the story and the characters. Many of the eight stories have people in the middle or later parts of their lives, and their views on love, relationships, and aging are poignant but never sloppy. That's in no small part due to the wry voice Moore brings:
"The menu, like love, was full of delicate, gruesome things--cheeks, tongues, thymus glands."
"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...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 system, as a dance team of bad feeling, they had shoved their hate center stage and shown a spotlight down for it to seize."
Perhaps my favorite story here is the chilling Foes, which opens innocuously enough with Bake McKurty, author of a not-terribly-popular biography of George Washington, attending a literati event and finding himself placed at dinner with someone at political odds with him. What starts as a funny piece about literary events and political disagreements grows into something else altogether.
Thanks, Ms. Moore. I needed this. And thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC via NetGalley.