Saturday, 21 June 2014

Lorrie Moore in London

She knew there were only small joys in life - the big ones were too complicated to be joys when you got all through. Lorrie Moore, Like Life
I went to London with my daughter Kate last month to see Lorrie Moore at the South Bank Centre. Although the weather was not warm there was a summery magic to the evening.  I was impressed with Blackfriars station and its view of the London skyline.  The Thames was gloriously grey and rolling and I finally managed to locate the South Bank's open air book market. 

Lorrie Moore read from Bark her new collection of short stories.  Her deadpan delivery of her story Thank You For Having Me which begins with musings on the death of Michael Jackson and moves on to a wedding where the bridesmaid dresses are described as 'one the light peach of baby aspirin, one the sea-foam green of low-dose clonazepam, the other the pale daffodil of the next lowest dose of clonazepam ' had the whole audience laughing.  The humour is black but also somehow liberating.

When asked for advice by aspiring writers in the audience she recommended to be in it for the long haul, to read and write what you love and to have separate work to make money so that you can be kind to your writing.  She also spoke about a story she'd written called You're Ugly, Too which attracted a lot of attention and has been much anthologised from her Like Life collection

You're Ugly, Too is indeed a remarkable story but I would highly recommend Joy from the same collection.   It's a story about a woman called Jane who loves to sing and works on a cheese counter in the local mall spreading the crackers with samples for customers to taste.  She takes her cat Fluffers to the vet and meets some tiny children with their cat Gooby.  It's funny and sweet and sad.

I don't think I'm going to get a break from work until at least September so I'm having a little summer staycation in the garden with some Lorrie Moore short story collections - Birds of America, Like Life, Bark and a re-read of Self-Help.  I've also just read her wonderful coming of age novella Who Will Run The Frog Hospital?

Have you read Lorrie Moore?


Sunday Taylor said...

The only book by Lorrie Moore that I have read is The Gate at the Stairs, which I loved. After reading your review, I want to read some more titles by her. You were so lucky to be able to hear her speak!

Bellezza said...

I have not read anything by her, but your staycation in the garden with an author you enjoy is about the best kind of vacation there could be. I just came home from a week up Northmen which I loved, but Dorothy was right, "There's no place like home."

Nadia A said...

Sounds like your trip to London was terrific- Lorrie Moore to boot! I've heard her read before when I was an undergrad in college. I remember not really knowing who she was, but being mesmerized by her reading (her writing). After reading this post, you make me want to look up her work again and give it a read. I think your idea of a staycation is perfect. Instead of Moore, I would have a pile of Murakami books next to me (I'm still trying to work my way through all of his books and short stories).

Arti said...

Your post makes me want to hop on a plane and head straight to London. If only it's so easy. But, I'll definitely visit London again some day, and hopefully during its literary events and occasions. Thanks for sharing with us Lorrie Moore.

Grad said...

Gosh, I love London. I always said if I was in my 20s, that is where I'd live. I've never read any Lorrie Moore but now I want to. And I'm joining you among the ranks of "staycationers."

Mrs Ford said...

I haven't yet read any Lorrie Moore but am beginning to feel that you are A Kindred Spirit and am now inspired by your post to do so - thank you!

Anbolyn said...

I've never read Moore, but I love the sound of her black humor. Short stories seem perfect for summer and I hope you enjoy your staycation with Moore's works. What a treat to be able to attend her reading - I hope to see Elizabeth Gilbert in a couple of weeks when she's in town with a local bookstore.

Ellen said...

I read 'The Gate at the Stairs' which I enjoyed. Lorrie Moore was on Women's Hour recently and I thought I must read some of her short stories. I'm part of a short-story reading group, will have to recommend her!

Vintage Reading said...

Sunday Taylor, I do like to hear my favourite writers talk about their work. Nothing much over the summer but I'm hoping there will be something to book in September.

Bellezza, yes I'm quite happy pottering about in my house and garden, rain or shine!

Nadia, yes Lorrie Moore has a deadpan delivery which only emphasises the dark humour in her stories. Never read Murakami, if you recommend him I'll give him a go.

Arti, there's nothing much in London over the summer but I'm hoping for some more literary events in September.

Grad, I love London but the pace and noise in the city centre is a little too much for me after a couple of days. Not sure I could live there!

Mrs Ford, I love your blog, very interesting concept which really works.

Anbolyn, I love going to listen to writers talk about their work. Hoping there will be some more literary events in Oxford or London over the summer.

Ellen, darn I missed Moore on Women's Hour, I heard her talk on Radio 4's Open Book and she was brilliant. A short story reading group sounds good - have you read Helen Simpson?