Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I'm finishing up John Updike's self-professed "favorite book I've written" The Centaur. It's weird, weird, weird and very wonderful. I bought a second edition for $22.00 at a fabulous bookstore in Venice (that's Beach, not Italy), so it has that crinkly cover and smells good. I've come to John Updike and fallen in love late in life, I think, for someone who considers herself pretty damn well-read. The novels of Updike that I've read are so of their time, of the social mores of the forties through the seventies, and the awful banality of work and marriage, the onset of corporate culture and concomitant loss of identity. Some would say they're misogynistic in tone and the women aren't completely fleshed out, but I'm seduced by the language, the old-fashioned style of it, the craft and industry that appears effortless. There's a hardness to the male intellect in these books that I'm drawn to right now in my life -- but...

when I'm finished I'm dashing out to Chevalier's (see my sidebar for the link) to pick up a copy of Lorrie Moore's new novel, the first in eleven years! I came to Lorrie Moore when I lived in New York City and read her short story "People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk" in The New Yorker. Sophie had already been diagnosed when I read it, a story of a small boy who has cancer and the wry, devastated voice of his mother telling it, and I was so taken by it that I ripped it out of the magazine and carried it around with me for years. It became a touchstone of sorts, something that I referred to over and over as I navigated our own treacherous journey. It sits, now, in a folder in my file cabinet, dog-eared and thin, the file marked "Important Articles." The short story went on to win an O.Henry prize, I believe, and then appeared in Moore's last published book Birds of America. The new novel is something I can happily (albeit nerdily) say that I've anticipated for a long time!

All this....just because. It's not ALL FIRES, ALL HELLFIRE and ALL GO TO HELL around here ALL THE TIME!


  1. I've never heard of Lorrie Moore, but will now make a mental note.

    Here's to wishing heavy rains upon your land!

  2. I've never heard of Lorrie Moore either but now I have. Thank-you. I have not read that novel of Updike's and don't know why. I am going to the library today so that will be rectified soon. When I read Updike, I wonder to myself why I even TRY to write. The man is a master at the craft and I, too, love him.

  3. If you haven't yet read "Who would run the frog Hospital" and "Anagrams" get them. I don't remember when they were out, somewhere in the late eighties, early nineties. Like you I discovered her through The New Yorker. Come to think of it, I discovered many a gem in the past 40 years through the New Yorker, and when I got tired of recycling all the papers and magazines I never have the time to read, The New Yorker, and my jewelry journals were the only things spared from cancellation.

    Thank you for the reminder. It's getting to be that time of the year when books take the place of the garden...and I seem to barely remember to breath on my own...sigh.

  4. How funny--I just posted about books:


    We must be on the same PAGE--lol. :)

    Thanks for the recommendations.

  5. Oh--and don't know if you saw in the Times today--


  6. i love that i can see your reflection on 'the centaur' cover; our relationships with what we read, choose to read, enjoy reading are so very personal, aren't they?

  7. So I went to the library and got Lorrie Moore's book of short stories and then I picked up one of the many New Yorkers laying around here (July 6&13) and when I got to the fiction section- there was a story of hers called "Child Care." I'm half way through it.
    Isn't life strange?



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