I don't just mean this because the subjects here were bleak or depressing, although they were--a divorced man struggling to define love in a world on the brink of war; two musicians forced to accept their failure to achieve fame (or money); the ghost of an old friend making an appearance to say goodbye. But at some level, it felt as though the stories got lost on their way to deliver a message; the cleverness of the situations got in the way of relaying anything but disappointment and frustration. But then, each of the characters here are disappointed, frustrated, or some lethal combination of the two--so perhaps that was the intent, as Moore drives readers to accept the certainty of our own mortality, the bleakness of our inner selves, the sadness of progress.
Ultimately, I appreciated a glimpse into Moore's skill with language, which is awe-inspiring, to say the least, and though I found the collection a bit uneven, there were parts of it that really hit it home. While this may not have been the best entry point into Moore's work, I'm still planning to visit her previous writing, and hoping for the best.
Has anyone else read this one? How does it compare to Birds of America or her novel, The Gate at the Stairs?
Thoughts from other bookworms:
The New York Times (1st review - quite the disappointment) and (2nd review - he liked it!)
The Boston Globe
Thank you to the publisher for providing an e-galley of this title for review.
Bark: Stories | Lorrie Moore | Knopf | February 2014 | Hardcover | 208 pages