No one diagrams the dissolution of a relationship like Lorrie Moore, and "Amahl and the Night Visitors: A Guide to the Tenor of Love" is no exception. (My, what a clunky title. You can see why I shortened it above.) Self Help, the collection in which "Amahl" appears, is devoted to tales of love and loss. When listing authors I admire, I somehow always forget about Moore. This is terrible of me because she's really quite wonderful. With an eagle-eye for details that ring devastatingly true and wit for days, Moore seems able to capture the right word, feeling, and movement at the exact right moment. Oh, she's a sharp one....
Plus, Moore devotes the perfect amount of story space to interactions between the main character, Trudy, and her newly acquired cat. Win-win!
At three o'clock in the morning you hear his car in the driveway, the thud of the front door. When he comes into the bedroom, you see his huge height framed for a minute in the doorway, his hair lit bright as curry. When he stoops to take off his shoes, it is as if some small piece of his back has given way, allowing him this one slow bend. He is quiet. When he gets into bed he kisses one of your shoulders, then pulls the covers up to his chin. He knows you're awake. "I'm tired," he announces softly, to ward you off when you roll toward him. Say: "You didn't let the cat out, did you?"
He says no, but he probably should have. "You're turning into a cat mom. Cats, Trudy, are the worst sort of surrogates."
Tell him you've always wanted to run off and join the surrogates.
Tell him you love him.
Tell him you know he didn't have rehearsal tonight. --Lorrie Moore
If you like Self Help, you might also want to check out books by Aimee Bender, George Saunders, Miranda July, Jim Shepard, and my ever favorite: Shirley Jackson. Moore has a new book of stories, Bark, coming out on 25 February. What perfect timing!
1. Girl with cat, by P.H. Fitzgerald on Flickr; 2. Winter street, via Orion Falls; 3. Train, by Hiraku Pan on Flickr; 4. Christmas lights, via Sphoenix Girl; 5. Records, via Oton Sailor; 6. Shower, by Megan Lloyd on Flickr; 7. Toast 2009-2010 collection, via Frivole Aime; 8. Jacket and jeans, via The Glossier Nerd; 9. Boots, via LA Cool & Chic; 10. Dinner party, by Whole Larder Love; 11. Cat on the bed, via A Cup of Tea in Bed; 12. Lee lookbook 2013, via Duke & Sons Leather.