Like Life

Written by: Lorrie Moore

Like Life Book Cover
In Like Life's eight exquisite stories, Lorrie Moore's characters stumble through their daily existence. These men and women, unsettled and adrift and often frightened, can't quite understand how they arrived at their present situations. Harry has been reworking a play for years in his apartment near Times Square in New York. Jane is biding her time at a cheese shop in a Midwest mall. Dennis, unhappily divorced, buries himself in self-help books about healthful food and healthy relationships. One prefers to speak on the phone rather than face his friends, another lets the answering machine do all the talking. But whether rejected, afraid to commit, bored, disillusioned or just misunderstood, even the most hard-bitten are not without some abiding trust in love.
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Like Life Reviews

Dearwassily
Am beginning to wonder if it's me. I'm finding myself reading lauded works time and again and going, Really?! This is considered to be--not just good, but the pinnacle?!. I think my tastes skew too far off, or maybe I don't know what good is (even though good is subjective). This was a slog to get through, even though it wasn't long, and the characters were mostly unlikable and unremarkable. Is this the point--being "Like Life"?
Lee Kofman
Although there was something annoying about the sense of hopelessness in this book (all the short stories kept reinforcing how much modern, urban people are incapable of intimacy, how they’re averse to emotional risk taking) and about Moore's remoteness from her characters, I still loved the book and also learned from it a lot for my own work. I loved how every story was really also about the relationship between people and cities/landscapes. Moore portrays NY and Midwest as oppressive places, b Although there was something annoying about the sense of hopelessness in this book (all the short stories kept reinforcing how much modern, urban people are incapable of intimacy, how they’re averse to emotional risk taking) and about Moore's remoteness from her characters, I still loved the book and also learned from it a lot for my own work. I loved how every story was really also about the relationship between people and cities/landscapes. Moore portrays NY and Midwest as oppressive places, but each in a very different way of course. Most of all, I was taken by Moore's use of language, the fineness of her observations and her talent for picking the quirkiest details. Her characterisation is quick and astute. Like an impressionist , with a few loose brushstrokes she creates a very precise image. Her humour is relentless... Which is wonderful, of course.
Kate H
Lorrie Moore has a way of describing life’s events so powerfully and simply, in a way that you understand to be true, without ever becoming preachy or strained. The quick pace of each story kept me hooked, and the clever descriptions added a dark humor to these characters’ dreary lives. The only story I couldn’t get into was the last one, Like Life. I think it fell short in its attempts to be haunting and dramatic. Someone else wrote that this story could’ve been set in 1988 instead and it would Lorrie Moore has a way of describing life’s events so powerfully and simply, in a way that you understand to be true, without ever becoming preachy or strained. The quick pace of each story kept me hooked, and the clever descriptions added a dark humor to these characters’ dreary lives. The only story I couldn’t get into was the last one, Like Life. I think it fell short in its attempts to be haunting and dramatic. Someone else wrote that this story could’ve been set in 1988 instead and it wouldn’t have made a difference, and I think that’s why the vague dystopian storyline didn’t work well. I also admire Moore’s ability to write such sad lonely characters without letting the prose sound melodramatic.
The only major issue I had with this book was that so many of the characters were identical in every way, and some of the stories ran together in my mind because of that. I know each protagonist had an individual personality, but when so many of the stories were about a woman in bed with a man she can’t love, maybe there should’ve been something more distinct or unusual about each story. I felt like some of the stories were just showing another form loneliness can take, without ever saying something valuable.
Birds of America :: Repair :: Reservation Blues :: Firestarter :: The Woman Warrior
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
This is another good collection of short stories about the many complications that can crop up in life, at all ages, but especially for older people. Many of the stories are about ageing and preparing for death, though death does not always come after such a long life, and it is not always possible for the characters in these stories to really prepare for their deaths beforehand. Relationships fall apart, children grow up to be more or less independent, and more or less successful than their par This is another good collection of short stories about the many complications that can crop up in life, at all ages, but especially for older people. Many of the stories are about ageing and preparing for death, though death does not always come after such a long life, and it is not always possible for the characters in these stories to really prepare for their deaths beforehand. Relationships fall apart, children grow up to be more or less independent, and more or less successful than their parents hoped, and they too face the challenges of ageing and death, both for themselves and for their ageing parents. Always, though, life goes on and even when there are no good options, there are always options, and things always work out somehow, even if not to everyone's benefit or comfort.
Malky
Why are Lorrie Moore’s characters bizarre cardboard figures? Why do they possess all the weird parts of any given population? Why do they think in profundities? Why are they so identical to one another?

I had to stop this book about halfway in because the characters were driving me crazy. While the writing style is something I can tolerate (though, sadly, no longer enjoy), the characters are, unfortunately, very much not like life.
Lurk42
it's been a while since i read a book as good as this one. the writing is ugly and beautiful and raw and real. the yearning these characters feel sears to the bone. i held my breath waiting for a hope--and it came, but only in tiny puffs.
Sarah
I've discovered the queen of the short story.
Lisa
The only story I really liked was “You’re ugly, too.”
Melanie
I don't particularly like the short story format, and it's hard to separate that from the actual quality of the stories. They're probably good, I just didn't find the book very interesting.
Steve Petkus
[NOTE: I cannot believe what just happened because of Goodreads's structure: I wrote a whole review of this book, complete with quotations, analysis, and reference to other writers' works, and simply because, after writing the review but before hitting "save," I tried to change the "shelves" from currently-reading to read, it completely wiped out the text of my review. Dammit, and goddammit! I'll try to redo it below.]
That Lorrie Moore is a master of the short story form is well established, but [NOTE: I cannot believe what just happened because of Goodreads's structure: I wrote a whole review of this book, complete with quotations, analysis, and reference to other writers' works, and simply because, after writing the review but before hitting "save," I tried to change the "shelves" from currently-reading to read, it completely wiped out the text of my review. Dammit, and goddammit! I'll try to redo it below.]
That Lorrie Moore is a master of the short story form is well established, but I will say it anyway again, because if you picked up one of her novels (Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? or The Gate at the Stairs), you might be, understandably, underwhelmed. But in her short fiction, Moore achieves an excellence in dialogue, gesture, and metaphor that puts her in a rarefied realm among writers. I sometimes feel she's doing in short stories what Toni Morrison does in novels like Song of Solomon: every sentence is just so packed, dense with insight and apt, original metaphor. I'll give just a few examples from Like Life, places where I dogeared pages. From "The Jewish Hunter": "She should stay. She should stay with him, unorphan him with love's unorphaning, live wise and simple in a world monstrous enough for years of whores and death, and poems of whores and death, so monstrous how could one live in it at all?" From "Joy": "'You kids wait right here,' said the mom, and she approached the counter with a weary smile. She brushed her bangs off her head, then placed her hands lat out on the countertop and stared at them momentarily, as if this had been the first opportunity all morning to observe them empty." From "Vissi D'Arte": "They had talked once about moving. They had talked once about marriage. They would have children, and Harry would stay home and write and take care of the children during the day. But this had troubled Harry. During the day he liked to go out. He liked to wander down the street to a coffee shop and read the paper, think about his play, order the rice pudding and eat it slowly, his brain aflame with sugar and caffeine, his thoughts heated to a usable caramel."
Moore was a contemporary and friend of Raymond Carver's, a writer I idolized for a time and still appreciate, and Like Life dates from around the time of Carver's death (late 1980s). (Inspired by some incredible writing in a later Moore collection--Birds of America--I have been digging backward.) Carver wrote, in an essay titled "On Writing," that "the words can be so precise they may even sound flat, but they can still carry; if used right, they can hit all the notes." Carver was speaking mainly about what you might call "plain style" or minimalism (apologies if I'm misusing those terms in anyone's view), and sometimes Moore's stuff seems in that vein. But more often than not, her writing isn't plain at all, but is rather, to use Carver's term, precise: not sounding flat but rather, seeming generated from the specific context of character and moment, mixed with the authors' vision and insight and metaphorical gift. And hitting some major notes.
Jacob
i haven't actually read this in some time and don't have the book anywhere near me but i suddenly feel compelled to string together some sort of review for it, delineating why this book feels so dear to me, why it feels like the me equivalent of lorrie moore books, the one i would be if i were one. (which is funny because the first time i read it i felt a little let down, as if i had been expecting more; then, upon partial rereads of bits of stories and full stories and several stories everythin i haven't actually read this in some time and don't have the book anywhere near me but i suddenly feel compelled to string together some sort of review for it, delineating why this book feels so dear to me, why it feels like the me equivalent of lorrie moore books, the one i would be if i were one. (which is funny because the first time i read it i felt a little let down, as if i had been expecting more; then, upon partial rereads of bits of stories and full stories and several stories everything started to feel very close and warm, the kind of warm where one is huddled up in a blanket in a cold room, not the kind of warm where it's 75 degrees outside and everyone goes out and has fun in nature.) i admire the people who would be frog hospital or birds of america, roll my eyes semi-good-naturedly and perhaps a little jealously at the people who would be self-help, wonder at the anagrams folks, and end up being friends with all the gate at the stairs people. but i would be like life because i'm some odd mix of callow and indirectly worldly, of having too much heft for my direct situation (feeling like it, at least) and a sort of wintry, wistful longing for what could be. i have my passions and they consume me--millie's trash and garbage and business cards, harry's play--and my situations that i can't quite fathom how i got into--mary and her two boys--and those moments where everything just seems to have gone so totally awry and i don't understand just how. it reminds me of lorde, suddenly, in its capricious specificity that is too often interpreted as a wide-ranging ultimatum. but it is really just what it is, for now, which doesn't mean that it can't carry itself through everything after now. it's winter right now and i want to sit on a bench outside a bowling alley--a specific bowling alley--and read this book and feel sort of half-dismal and fully dazed, and then go into dollar general and tuesday morning and of course thrift city and try to cobble together some sort of temporal existence, for now.
Laurie
Like Life is a short story collection that I only read or had heard of because it made the nutso "1001 Books To Read Before You Die" list. That being, this has to be one of the better suggestions that list has given me.

What works about this? Well, the stories themselves are nothing more than slightly more filled in Carver stories which are set in New York and deal more with the female psyche. That being said, I feel that the comparison does her no justice. She might have a simple and predictable Like Life is a short story collection that I only read or had heard of because it made the nutso "1001 Books To Read Before You Die" list. That being, this has to be one of the better suggestions that list has given me.

What works about this? Well, the stories themselves are nothing more than slightly more filled in Carver stories which are set in New York and deal more with the female psyche. That being said, I feel that the comparison does her no justice. She might have a simple and predictable bag of tricks, but goddamn it, she uses it well, and it appears to be effortless. "You're Ugly, Too" and "The Jewish Hunter" absolutely had me hooked. They were just so funny and raw and sad, and realistic.

This been took me a long time, but I'm glad I came around to it. Some of the stories were more of a miss, hence the one star demerit. Overall though, I will be checking into further Lorrie Moore.
AK
I started this in the bathroom. One of my old roommates, who was basically a stranger to me, left it in there. I started reading the first story, about dating two boys (it's called "Two Boys") and I was all, like, "uh, is this my life?! written about by a GENIUS?!" So I plucked the book from the bathroom and then took it onto the subway, where I continued to freak out. I think a lot of ladies get into reading Loorie Moore by the Principle of Overidentification. In the story "You're Ugly, Too", t I started this in the bathroom. One of my old roommates, who was basically a stranger to me, left it in there. I started reading the first story, about dating two boys (it's called "Two Boys") and I was all, like, "uh, is this my life?! written about by a GENIUS?!" So I plucked the book from the bathroom and then took it onto the subway, where I continued to freak out. I think a lot of ladies get into reading Loorie Moore by the Principle of Overidentification. In the story "You're Ugly, Too", the lead character sneaks off to the bathroom during a terrible party to go pluck at a hair on her face until her skin bleeds, and I felt as if my own soul had been lay bare before me. Sometimes I return this book when I am confronted by a vague yet pervasive feeling that I can't identify, in the hopes that Loorie Moore will have explained it in some precise, witty sentence that also contains a pun.

Alex Merrett
While collections of this nature are occasionally just dribble trays for completists, this one is rather more compelling in and of itself. With its eight stories focused tightly on the discrepancy between men and women, and what they hopelessly seek from one another, Moore somehow manages to escape tedium. Boil-in-the-bag tales these ain’t; they require a far more poncy term suggestive of infinite and daunting imagination that hasn’t been invented. The open spaces between the pummelling sentence While collections of this nature are occasionally just dribble trays for completists, this one is rather more compelling in and of itself. With its eight stories focused tightly on the discrepancy between men and women, and what they hopelessly seek from one another, Moore somehow manages to escape tedium. Boil-in-the-bag tales these ain’t; they require a far more poncy term suggestive of infinite and daunting imagination that hasn’t been invented. The open spaces between the pummelling sentences really let your disquiet roam free. This isn't about synthesising misery and bliss into shiny redemption: Moore's characters are strangling on the blood they coughed up when they were laughing. There's strength here, invincibility, as well as a wilful, stubborn out-of-step-ness. It has solidity and perversion.

It isn’t always interesting to see a great writer's initial gropings towards themselves – it isn’t often beautiful. This is. Permit yourself a sad, lopsided smile.
Laura
I picked up this book because I was working on a short story recently and, obviously, wanted to read something that would make me want to kill myself (i.e. give up writing forever). It was excruciating to read this. So perfect! Too perfect! I look at her stories and look at my stories and then abruptly disappear into the gaping abyss between them.

Someone should start a tumblr just quoting those tight, mind-blowing turns of phrase that she does so well. Is fuckyeahlorriemoore.tumblr.com taken alr I picked up this book because I was working on a short story recently and, obviously, wanted to read something that would make me want to kill myself (i.e. give up writing forever). It was excruciating to read this. So perfect! Too perfect! I look at her stories and look at my stories and then abruptly disappear into the gaping abyss between them.

Someone should start a tumblr just quoting those tight, mind-blowing turns of phrase that she does so well. Is fuckyeahlorriemoore.tumblr.com taken already?

---

"... sometimes she seemed not to have a look of her own, or any look whatsoever, and it began to amaze her that her students and colleagues were able to recognize her at all. How did they know? When she walked into a room, how did she look so that they knew it was her? Like this? Did she look like this? And so she returned the mirror."
Paul
these short stories date back to the eighties, and give us a glimpse into the recent past. .. as seen my Lorrie Moore. And that's good enough for me. Some are surprisingly funny, think Seinfeld without the snark, but always serious at the core. Moore has a knack for writing about people who don't quite fit in. Readers who think short stories should end in a twist, or at least an epiphany, may be disappointed. Moore's stories usually wind up on a note of wisdom, sometimes so understated you can't these short stories date back to the eighties, and give us a glimpse into the recent past. .. as seen my Lorrie Moore. And that's good enough for me. Some are surprisingly funny, think Seinfeld without the snark, but always serious at the core. Moore has a knack for writing about people who don't quite fit in. Readers who think short stories should end in a twist, or at least an epiphany, may be disappointed. Moore's stories usually wind up on a note of wisdom, sometimes so understated you can't help but imagine she thinks endings, in modern short fiction, have been overvalued. What about beginnings, and middles? I agree.
Rica
"When tenderness ended, there was a lull before the hate, and things could spill into it. There was always so much to keep back, so much scratching behind the face. You tried to shoo things away, a broomed woman with a porch to protect."
When she was little her mother had said, "Would you jump off a cliff just because everyone else did?"
"Yes," Mary had said.
"Would you?" said her mother.
Mary had tried again. "No," she said. There were only two answers. Which could it be?
"They could see! Everyone c "When tenderness ended, there was a lull before the hate, and things could spill into it. There was always so much to keep back, so much scratching behind the face. You tried to shoo things away, a broomed woman with a porch to protect."
When she was little her mother had said, "Would you jump off a cliff just because everyone else did?"
"Yes," Mary had said.
"Would you?" said her mother.
Mary had tried again. "No," she said. There were only two answers. Which could it be?
"They could see! Everyone could see what she was, what she was doing! She wasn't fooling a soul. What she needed was plans. At a time like this, plans could save a person.

Cynthia
I'm getting to Moore's books out of order (as I find them), so I think having read Birds of America before this one made the latter suffer just a bit by comparison. The stories here seemed grimmer, somehow. Moore's writing, her penchant for turning phrases, her wit resonates in all the stories here, but I found I was enjoying so many individual sentences more than the tales themselves, if that makes sense (which, probably not). That said, I really liked "You're Ugly, Too"; for me, that one worke I'm getting to Moore's books out of order (as I find them), so I think having read Birds of America before this one made the latter suffer just a bit by comparison. The stories here seemed grimmer, somehow. Moore's writing, her penchant for turning phrases, her wit resonates in all the stories here, but I found I was enjoying so many individual sentences more than the tales themselves, if that makes sense (which, probably not). That said, I really liked "You're Ugly, Too"; for me, that one worked best. Looking forward to finding her others.
Marissa
It was interesting to read Lorrie Moore's first book and to be able to see the scaffolding of her writing a little more clearly than you might in some of her later, probably better short story collections. Still, this book was really good and I really enjoyed being all in-the-know about all of her New York references. I don't think every single story works as well as it might, but definitely there are a few that are very well-written and they almost all have the unique wit and voice that is so c It was interesting to read Lorrie Moore's first book and to be able to see the scaffolding of her writing a little more clearly than you might in some of her later, probably better short story collections. Still, this book was really good and I really enjoyed being all in-the-know about all of her New York references. I don't think every single story works as well as it might, but definitely there are a few that are very well-written and they almost all have the unique wit and voice that is so characteristically hers.
Meg
I read this book mostly while in a rainforest. It was a copy I'd picked up somewhere during the trip, some backpacker bookstore. When I read it I thought it was the smartest bit of writing I'd seen in ages. I don't know if that would be true now, or if it was just the rainforest and me all involved in my self-absorbed self-inflicted pressures, scared of mosquitoes and bus drivers. The stories in here couldn't have been further from where I was reading them, so who knows how exactly they made me I read this book mostly while in a rainforest. It was a copy I'd picked up somewhere during the trip, some backpacker bookstore. When I read it I thought it was the smartest bit of writing I'd seen in ages. I don't know if that would be true now, or if it was just the rainforest and me all involved in my self-absorbed self-inflicted pressures, scared of mosquitoes and bus drivers. The stories in here couldn't have been further from where I was reading them, so who knows how exactly they made me feel so comforted, so fitted. All it could be is that it was good work.
Alexandra
Lorrie Moore does dissatisfaction well, and does it without any regard for a traditional plot structure. The sadness of age is prevalent in this collection - what to do when time no longer feels expansive and life didn't turn out like it does in the movies. I love authors who turn their gaze to the beauty of the mundane and traditionally unbeautiful. It's so much harder to do. To say that her stories are depressing is a misconception. These are moving interiors of contemporary life and Moore han Lorrie Moore does dissatisfaction well, and does it without any regard for a traditional plot structure. The sadness of age is prevalent in this collection - what to do when time no longer feels expansive and life didn't turn out like it does in the movies. I love authors who turn their gaze to the beauty of the mundane and traditionally unbeautiful. It's so much harder to do. To say that her stories are depressing is a misconception. These are moving interiors of contemporary life and Moore handles them like a third arm - with grace and incredible wit.
Jen
This book is great! Lorrie Moore does a great job at writing bleak, believable stories and characters. They appear as somewhat interesting people surrounded by dreary life like situations where they are unable to grow and end up losing themselves (being around other people who don't seem to understand them doesn't help either). Beautifully written and very in touch with the "boring" uneventful sadness of every day life.

I highly recommend it! I will definitely read more of Lorrie Moore in future This book is great! Lorrie Moore does a great job at writing bleak, believable stories and characters. They appear as somewhat interesting people surrounded by dreary life like situations where they are unable to grow and end up losing themselves (being around other people who don't seem to understand them doesn't help either). Beautifully written and very in touch with the "boring" uneventful sadness of every day life.

I highly recommend it! I will definitely read more of Lorrie Moore in future!
Matt Buchholz
Lorrie Moore seems too intellectually restless for short stories, like she'd prefer to be doing long, slow burn novels where over-written sentences such as, "People talking were meant to look at a face, the disastrous cupcake of it, the hide-and-seek of the heart dashing across," might not be as out of place as they are here. But apparently her editor won't let her and keeps forcing her write underdeveloped and thematically confusing 20 pagers.
Karen
I really enjoy Lorrie Moore's writing and point of view generally and I enjoyed this book specifically. I can relate to many of the characters, even when they're not characters that I want to relate to. This is a book about relationships between people that are often problematic or dysfunctional. In this way it is similar to Self Help, another collection of Moore's short stories. It's tone, however, is darker and some of the characters are more grotesque or absurd.
Eric
I'm a Lorrie Moore fan from the four short-stories I read before I read this book, but I might have picked the wrong book to start on. I remember not hearing much about this book but I got it for free. So all I can say is that the writing was strong but the pieces didn't seem to hold together as compared to stories of hers I found elsewhere. They didn't generate to a strong finish as much as they eloquently seemed to because of Moore's poignant style.
Tali
I liked Birds of America more. I don't know if it's because I have a tendency to like the first book I read of an author the most, or if it's because Like Life is an earlier work and she's grown a lot. I give it a four only in relation to Birds of America. If it were in relation to other books, it might have a five.
Lauren
Hmmm... The last chapter definitely dropped this down a whole star for me. It made no sense and was a truly weak ending to the book. Aside from that, I found most of the stories fascinating and amusing. I only wish that they somehow tied into each other, or at least all tied together in the last chapter. I didn't enjoy this disjointed feel and was really hoping for something more. That being said the way certain passages were worded made me laugh out loud!
Jason Forbus
This is—in my humble opinion—a classic, so a proper review would be redundant.

However, if you love great sentences, read this book. Moore is a master at characterization and interplay. She says more about her characters in one sentence than many authors can in one hundred pages. I catch myself highlighting and re-reading a sentence in admiration, much as I would linger over favorite details of a painting. Her books are short, but I always try to make them last as long as possible.
Sarah
Lorrie Moore has been described as a writer's writer. Her language usage is very artful. The last story which is also the title story was the most complex and I thought ambiguous but maybe I am not getting it- I don't know. I am currently on a Alice Munro, John Cheever kick so I will definitely add her to my list of short story writers to carry around with me for when I am waiting for an appointment or somebody to show up.
Kevin
The character Odette in the story "The Jewish Hunter" expresses what is probably both Moore's strenght and weakness as a writer: "Nothing is a joke with me. It just all comes out like one." Funny and poignant are emotional chords played too often in the short space of this collection. On the other hand, no American writer working today deploys metaphor with such surprise and torsion. Don't miss it, but avoid the temptation to read the whole thing in a short space of time.
Shannon
I have read about 4 Lorrie Moore books and I read them more than 4 years ago. All of them have been wonderful but they all sort of mesh into one collective memory. But if I recall correctly this one is my absolute favorite. I can't really remember the stories anymore but rather the impression. This book left a big impression. She uses twisty fluttery loopy language and lots of word play. I love it. I recommend any and all of her books. I just remember this one as being particularly excellent.
Jenny R
I love the way Moore will include a single quirky detail about a character that brings him to life: with one insight, you feel you know exactly who this character is (partly because the character usually had no idea who he is).

That said -- don't binge read these if you feel like leaving the house, or even getting off the couch, or doing anything vaguely productive afterward. You will need some time to acclimate back to sunlight.
Joel
this is the first book ive read by a woman in quite a long time. I'm not sure if thats important or not. Anyways, it was a nice change of pace, sort of. it was similar-ish to Lasdun's It's Beginning to Hurt, since it deals with a lot of the same things, unhappy middle-aged people. I dont know what im attracted to about unhappy middle-aged people. It's sort of weird that way. The book was really good. I liked it a lot. My favorite was probably the epynonymous? one, Like Life.
Diana Higgins
She's good, she really is. I took one star off for what's probably my own problem but sometimes I finish a story that seems to just cut off in a random place and wonder what the heck the whole thing was about. They're great slice-of-life pieces, really interesting character studies, etc. But sometimes I just don't "get it"! As I said, it's probably me. I can be dense.

I enjoyed reading these stories.
D. Arlene
I enjoyed reading this book. I especially love the way author's end their stories and Moore makes some interesting choices. My favorites were probably: Like Life, Vissi D'Arte, and The Jewish Hunter. All of these stories had very well written and beautiful prose with even, for me, some surprising endings. I would recommend this book to friends, if not for the good stories then for studying her technique.

(I'm an MFA student in crw).
Hans
I've enjoyed the other short story collections by Lorrie Moore, however I never quite understood why some people lose their minds over her work. Now I understand--this is as close as anyone will come to a perfect short story collection. All are gems, though my favorites are:
--"Joy"
--"Places to Look for Your Mind"
--"The Jewish Hunter"
--"Like Life"
Cora
I like Lorrie Moore's writing style and her characters are usually very interesting. I wasn’t really a fan of this collection of stories because they were rather depressing. I also prefer stories that have some sort of resolution, but I felt that most of these stories ended without tying up loose strings. Overall, not my favorite book but it was well written.
Cathy
Lorrie Moore never disappoints. This is a very fine collection. Whenever I see a negative or less-than-enthusiastic review of her writing, I think, "Well maybe I should read her work more critically." Then I read her creations and am immediately drawn in deeply, as always, carried away on the strength and literary truth of each story.She is one of our best.
Lilburninbean
Again, this collection of short stories is surprising, fun, and tragic. I've never read anything by Lorrie Moore that I haven't liked. This book definitely seems to bridge the stylistic development between Self-help and Birds of America.
nicole
hands down my favorite short story writer. didn't exactly have a favorite, as they all seemed to end too quickly. reading flannery o'conner recently however made me nervous, as i expected each of of moore's stories to have that ghastly ending and was so excited when it didn't turn out that way. listened to st. vincent's actor a lot while reading.
Dave
Reading a collection like this is so exciting, but also frustrating! How had I not discovered Lorrie Moore before?

Absolute top-notch short story writing here. Loved everything about it, and can't wait to read more of Ms. Moore's stories. If you're a fan of the form, give this a shot. Very highly recommended.
Alvin
An uneven collection, but still terrific. In a few spots the action slows and reading becomes a bit of a slog, but even at it's worst, Moore's prose sparkles with wit and insight. Also, one can't help but be impressed by her rootless, confused, and thoroughly modern characters. They're so familiar and real they leap off the page.
Sam
Another great collection from Lorrie Moore. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Birds of America or Self-Help, but perhaps I'll change my mind after time passes and I choose to read these stories again. Like her other collections, each of these stories are united by quirky characters, wit, and themes of depression, anxiety, and disillusionment throughout.
Natalie Shawver
I enjoyed most of the short stories in this book about relationships--relationships between lovers, siblings, and those you want to be your family. Each story was about making a connection and striving to keep that connection--something I think we all hope for. A good selection if you are the mood for a different story every 25 pages or so.
Adrian Hale
Stunning use of language. Each story was a voyeuristic view into a character's life. Reading each character was a dichotomy of insight into someone old and wise and simultaneously young and stupid. I loved balancing on the peaks and plunging into the valleys of the human spirit that Lorrie Moore brings out. I highly recommend these stories.
Josh
Okay. So I only technically loved four out of eight of these stories, but my love for those four is huge. Moore's scope, language play, wonderful dialogue, and other-worldly command of pacing is...well...inspiring to say the least. "Places to Look for Your Mind," "The Jewish Hunter," and "Like Life," may be some of my favourite stories ever now. Whoa.
Jessica
There are some great stories within, all a bit bleak. But I like bleak. Moore's stories beam in the economy of her words, and I'm reminded of a few of her lonely characters every once in a while. I look around sometimes, and I see them in the strangers around me. Once or twice I even recognized myself.
Rachel
Over and over again, these stories are about people's inability to connect with one another or their life. And that feeling of alienation, of aloneness, permeates them, leaving me feeling a bit disconnected from each story. I would get to the end of a story and feel a gap.

May
exceptionally insightful. a truly amazing book to reflect on. lorrie moore writes like she's reading from a large print hardcover of my soul... she has the voice of the young urban woman nailed like no other.
Catherine
I have a love/hate relationship with Lorrie Moore. I find a lot of her humour too cute and pat (that's the hate part.) But then there are stories like the titular "Like Life," which make me want to kiss the book.
Christopher Castellani
Moore's best book by far. In this one, her wit and wordplay are all in service of the character and the complex stories of love and loss. The title story stands out as an experiment in form and genre that completely pays off.
Douglas Armstrong
I love Lorrie Moore's literary voice, but the dark texture of her stories can weigh on me before I'm finished. Perhaps it was a mistake to read this and her "Self Help" back-to-back. But I so enjoy her metaphors and analogies and witty dialog that I can't stop myself. Sweet torture.
Christopher Roberts
Few writers can blend comedy and tragedy as eloquently as Lorrie Moore. She can be a bit showy at times but if you can overlook that flaw, her work is startlingly alive with a voice that you cannot forget. Her observations on human frailty are razor sharp.
Boris Gregoric
...depressing like Hell, but interesting how these, or parts of these stories, meander. it's good when the story takes you to some unexpected, bushy place off the beaten track. as a proto-naturalist, don't care at all about the 'urbane' settings depicted...
Kevin Shoop
Grade: C

2.5 stars, somewhere between "it was ok" and "I liked it." Although unique and well-written, these stories were too incoherent and quirky for my taste. I enjoy quirky, but not without coherency. My favorite story was "You're Ugly, Too."
Kris
Lorrie Moore is one of my favorite short fiction writers, and this is my favorite collection from her. Probably more resonant with the female reader, but deeply infused with both emotion and humor. Like life.
Mollycakes
i read this the other day when i was feeling really depressed and i think it made me more depressed...not that it isn't good, it is, but the stories are about lonely lost people and i just found myself relating a little too much.
Andrew Pagano
This was lovely. Honestly, I have no other words to describe it. When I finished the last story, I involuntarily brought the book to my chest and hugged it. That's the kind of lovely I'm talking about.
Rebecca
I think this is a reprint from a long time ago. I didn't like it quite as much as Birds of America, but how can you not love Moore's short stories. Seriously. How can you not?
Betsyw
I am a fan of short stories! Lorrie Moore is a writer with a fondness for quirky characters who are often funny and out of step with their environment. Sometimes laugh out loud funny, and sometimes cringe-worthy.
Midwesterners beware; she is a harsh critic!
Huston
This book is Lorrie Moore doing what she does best -- examining relationships, displaying her quick wit, and questioning the purpose of the mundane. She's a sharp writer with keen observation -- and this book deserves more press.
Britt Any
I loved this book. I didn't know what to expect because it was just handed to me, coupled with a "here, read this." The way she uses analogies blew me away. So good. I want to enroll wherever she's teaching and listen to her lecture. (The fact that I just went creeper is not lost on me)
Margrethe Rhiger
Nogle af novellerne var for mig fantastisk læsning og greb mig om hjertet. Andre efterlod mig med en oplevelse af, at have misforstået noget, eller måske nærmere; Aldrig at have knækket koden, og heller ikke være synderligt interesseret i at gøre det.
heather
I have been rereading this, because though Moore's stories seem a bit anachronistic, her poetic prose and ability to wield detail in unexpected ways, to make ordinary things startling in a creeping way, are things I want for my very own.
Katie
Loved loved loved the last half of this book, but it took a while to get into the first few stories.
Kevin
A strong collection, but not as strong as as Self-Help, which is a personal favorite. It has Moore's usual flare for puns and sarcasm, and two or three stories rank among her best.
Katie
Moore is a master of awkward subtlety. While at times a bit too heavy on the New-York-neurosis for my taste, overall lovely, funny, poignant.
Stephanie
Very literary. some stories unsatisfying, seemed forced.
Cassie
It just didn't resonate with me. The stories were great to read, but I prefer an underlying meaning. Sometimes I was fighting to grasp the point.
Kelly
I laughed a fair amount. "You're Ugly, Too" is a classic. Unfortunately, though, all of Lorrie Moore's characters sound just like Lorrie Moore.
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