First, try to be something, anything, else

If you’ve never read Lorrie Moore’s “How to Become a Writer,” please do so now.

Then go out and buy Self-Help and read it ten times. Although they’re less cherished by the highbrow literary establishment than Birds of America, Moore’s early collections (Self-Help and Like Life) are dark and hilarious, with an innocence that was lost by the time of the later collection.

My friend CAAF and I were talking in email about Lorrie Moore earlier this week. CAAF’s a fan, too, but said in reading Birds of America, she

felt almost like Lorrie Moore had gotten too good at her craft. The stories were so exquisite and harrowing that they did me in. It was like taking someone else’s sorrow straight and I found myself postponing picking up the book again.

This reminds me that I’m still sitting on a pile of reader mail. I’ll have to post excerpts from it tonight so everybody doesn’t start to hate me.


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