Friday, November 5, 2010

Lorrie Moore

What was that sound, you say? Oh, that was the buzz that emanated from Butler University last week as the English Department readied itself for the upcoming visit by author, Lorrie Moore.

It was back in the '80s that Moore first entered the literary world, and she did it with a bang: her first published work was comprised of short stories she wrote for her master's thesis. She is now the author of three short story collections, and three novels. Her newest work is the novel, "A Gate at the Stairs."

Moore opened the evening by reading a section from "A Gate at the Stairs," and then went on to read the short story "Foes," which hasn't yet been published in the U.S.

After her readings she took a few questions. When asked if it had been difficult to write the more troubling scenes in AGATS, she said no, adding that the purpose of those scenes was to illustrate the damaging things adults unwittingly do to children. She also spoke to the setting of AGATS, saying that although the word "Wisconsin" is never used in the book, she wrote of a fictional place that resembles Wisconsin so she could "have a conversation with it."

When asked about the publishing world's current state of flux, Moore answered that she would be a writer even if she was not paid for her work, mentioning that although we may think that copyright laws have been around forever, they were created a mere 100 years ago. The upending of the status quo in the publishing world is, in essence, taking us back to those days before copyright laws when writing was unprotected.

And then it was over. Moore tossed out a thank you and headed for the book signing table. It all happened so fast. I found myself wondering if I had really seen Moore or if she had been a figment of my imagination. True, Lorrie Moore had read her work -- which was sharp and witty -- and answered questions. So why, when all was said and done, was I left with an undeniable feeling of dissatisfaction? Lorrie Moore was all-business. She kept herself at-a-distance. as she read her sharp and witty writing she gave no hint of the person who wrote those words.

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