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February 20, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Author: Lorrie Moore
Release Date: Feb. 25
It has been 15 years since
Lorrie Moore’s The New York Times bestselling collection of short stories, Birds of America, came out. The author now returns with one of the most anticipated compilations of the year, Bark. The book includes eight short stories, each exuding the author’s characteristic humor and poignancy.
Most stories are brand new and some have already been published in The New Yorker including “Debarking” and “The Juniper Tree.” In Bark, Moore explores the perils of divorce, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and a ghost forcing a still-living friend to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” She takes relatable problems and experiences and turns them into stories that incite laughter and reveal universal truths.
However, this might not be the Moore that readers remember. The irreverence of past stories is replaced with a certain darkness. Amidst the rough patches, though, Moore hides subtle humor that doesn’t distract from the stories, but rather lightens the load of their difficulties. The people in Bark all are struggling, so the collection could easily come off as sad and preachy. Instead, Moore makes it feel earnest as she balances unfortunate realities with the kind of absurdities that make them tolerable. Bark might be atypical, but it remains relevant and entertaining. The new Lorrie Moore definitely is worth meeting.
What’s Important is Feeling: Stories
Author: Adam Wilson
Release Date: Feb. 25
Adam Wilson, author of Flatscreen: A Novel and one of the 50 Funniest People in Brooklyn according to Brooklyn Magazine, is relatively new to the short story scene. In his first published collection, What’s Important is Feeling: Stories, Wilson tackles aspects of growing up, coping and relationships in five short stories.
The titular story, which was selected for the 2012 edition of The Best American Short Stories, follows two film school friends contemplating their talents and futures all while working on a failing project.
Other stories in the collection feature students’ attempts to get away from the pull of a summer home, an Elvis debate that becomes deep, banker barflies and a pair of addicts who rely on a crustacean to boost their love life during a detox.
Wilson’s drug-fueled, socially awkward characters stumble through their problematic lives and readers follow behind, sometimes laughing and sometimes wondering if they’re worth following at all.
Those who like to sympathize or psychoanalyze should find what they’re looking for in What’s Important is Feeling: Stories. Wilson’s characters might be one, probably two, cards short of a full deck, but they are inarguably funny.