Lorrie Moore — Self-Help

This book is devastatingly good, everyone should immediately move it to the top of their bedside queues. The stories in it are largely taken from Moore's MFA masters thesis from when, I gather, she was only 27 years old (fucking precocious geniuses). It's so perfect that I counted only four or five similes that were just good instead of perfect, yet they stood out.

from How to Be an Other Woman
Love drains from you, takes with it much of your blood sugar and water weight. You are like a house slowly losing its electricity, the fans slowing, the lights dimming and flickering; the clocks stop and go and stop.

from What Is Seized
"Your numbness," my mother cries softly, "is something perhaps you cannot help. It is what the world has done to you. But your coldness. That is what you do to the world."
"That is what is wrong with cold people. Not that they have ice in their souls—we all have a bit of that—but that they insist their every word and deed mirror that ice. They never learn the beauty or value of gesture. The emotional necessity. For them, it is all honesty before kindness, truth before art. Love is art, not truth..."

from Amahl and the Night Visitors
Two years ago when Moss first moved in, there was something exciting about getting up in the morning. You would rise, dress, and, knowing your lover was asleep in your bed, drive out into the early morning office and factory traffic, feeling that you possessed all things, Your Man, like a Patsy Cline song, at home beneath your covers, pumping blood through your day like a heart.
"Look, Bob. I'm no idiot. I was born in New York City. I lived there until I was four..."
Step away from him. Outside, in front of the streetlight, something like snow is falling. Think back again to MacNeil-Lehrer. Say in a level tone: "You know, there are people who know more about it than we do, who say that there is no circumnavigating a nuclear war, we will certainly have one, it's just a matter of time. And when that happens, it's going to dissolve all our communications systems, melt silicon chips—"

"Trudy, please." He wants you to stop. He knows this edge in your voice, this MacNeil-Lehrer edge. All of the world knotted and failing on your tongue.

"And then if you're off living someplace else, in some efficiency, how will I be able to get in touch with you? There I'll be, Moss, all alone in my pink pom-pom slippers, the entire planet exploding all around, and I won't be able to talk to you, to say—" In fifth grade you learned the first words ever spoken on the telephone: Mr. Watson, come here, I want you. And suddenly, as you look at him, at the potatoey fists of his cheeks, at his broom-blonde hair, it hits you as it would a child: Someday, like everybody, this man you truly love like no other is going to die. No matter how much you love him, you cannot save him. No matter how much you love: nothing, no one, lasts.

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