Book Review: Bark

Bark, by Lorrie Moore

(Faber, £11.99; ebook, £7.99) 

In the modern books world, there aren’t many things rarer than a bestselling short-story writer—but Lorrie Moore has deserved every bit of her success. In her first new collection for 15 years, the main characters have inevitably grown older, with many either caught in long-term marriages (“What had happened to the handsome hippie she had married?”) or dealing with

the gruesome business of post-divorce dating (“picking up where they had left off decades ago, if only they could remember where the hell that was”).

Once again, though, Moore plunges us deep and instantly into their lives, while also conveying with miraculous concision the choices, mistakes and accidents that have led them to this point. She’s as funny as ever too—combining sympathy and beady-eyed shrewdness with quietly zinging one-liners. In the first story, for example, a child of divorce is “now rudely transported between houses in a speedy, ritualistic manner resembling
a hostage drop-off”.

Short stories, like vinyl records, are often predicted to be on the brink of a comeback that somehow never quite happens. Nonetheless, if you want to see how terrific—and satisfying—they can be, then Lorrie Moore on the top of her form is a pretty good place to start.