Saturday, October 3, 2009

Just Like Seeing An Old Boyfriend

I'm not sure which female short story writer of the late 20th century I'm more enamored with: Alice Munro or Lorrie Moore. The thing about Alice is that she is always there for me: churning out her genius in magazines and anthologies year after year. Lorrie, however, has withheld her love, pretty much, for the last 11 years. Yes of late there've been some great stories in The New Yorker, but for a long time I've had to mainly cling to the memory of meeting her at FSU back in 2000, or revisit her genius stories from Birds of America, Self Help, and Like Life like a girl poring over photographs of a long-lost high school sweetheart.

Now she's coming back into town. She wants to meet and have drinks. Not literally, of course, but with the release of A Gate at the Stairs, that's how I feel. Will that magic sparkle that comes over me every time I re-read (for the seventh time) "Dance in America," still be there when I finally get the nerve to plunge in to this new novel? Or will it sour me against someone I've idolized for a decade? People who don't know Moore's work are giving this pretty strong reviews, but other folks are saying it's not quite up to her previous stories. If I say yes to this date with her, will my love be renewed and invigorated, as though someone has blown across the always-burning coals of my fondness and caused a flame to ignite, or will I be left cold, wishing I'd stayed home and gazed at my old scrapbooks instead?

Oh Little Shop fans, advise me!


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