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Original Essays | September 4, 2014

Edward E. Baptist: IMG The Two Bodies of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism



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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

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Bark: Stories

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Bark: Stories Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. What is the metaphor of the title? How do the epigraphs help to set it up?

2. The stories share several themes, among them aging and the passage of time, parents and children, divorce and separation. What would you say is the primary theme of the collection?

3. Several of the story titles have multiple meanings. How does Moore’s wordplay keep the reader guessing?

4. The dialogue in Moore’s stories is often funny. Would you call the stories themselves humorous?

5. Real-life current events cast shadows over several of the stories. How does Moore use them to shape a deeper meaning?

6. In “Debarking,” when Zora tells Ira, “Every family is a family of alligators,” (p. 15), how does this foreshadow what’s to come?

7. Ira reads a poem in Bekka’s journal: “Time moving. / Time standing still. / What is the difference? / Time standing still is the difference” (p. 31).  He has no idea what it means, but he knows that it’s awesome. What do you think the poem means?

8. Why do you think Moore titled the story following “Debarking” “The Juniper Tree”?

9. This second story has a dreamlike quality. Do you think Moore expects the reader to accept it as realistic?

10. In “Paper Losses,” Kit asserts: “A woman had to choose her own particular unhappiness carefully. That was the only happiness in life: to choose the best unhappiness” (p. 68). What do you think of this notion?

11. What point is Moore making in “Foes”?

12. What is the metaphor of the “rat king” sequence (p. 140) in “Wings”?

13. In “Subject to Search,” Tom says that cruelty comes naturally to everyone (p. 166). Do you agree? Does that assertion prove true in Moore’s stories?

14. “Thank You for Having Me” draws a clear connection between weddings and funerals, marriage and death. What connections have you seen in your own experience?

15. On page 184, Moore writes, “Maria was a narrative girl and the story had to be spellbinding or she lost interest in the main character, who was sometimes herself and sometimes not.” Which other characters in the collection could be described in this way?

16. Which of Moore’s characters would you most like to meet again?

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307594136
Subtitle:
Stories
Author:
Moore, Lorrie
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Publication Date:
20140225
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
8.54 x 6 x 0.92 in 0.88 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Featured Titles » Staff Favorites
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » New Arrivals

Bark: Stories Used Hardcover
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$17.50 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Knopf - English 9780307594136 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Moore's first book of short stories in 15 years showcases her razor-edged humor, her dazzling skill with language, and her incredible psychological precision. Reading Bark, I realized that as much as I love her novels, I'd been missing the irresistible pull of her stories terribly without knowing it.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "There are eight stories in Moore's latest collection, and, like her previous work (Birds of America), these stories are laugh-out-loud funny, as well as full of pithy commentary on contemporary life and politics. In much of Moore's earlier fiction, the protagonists are young girls or mothers of small children. Here, they are divorcées. They have teenagers. They've variously tried and failed at dating, holding down jobs, being kind, or being sane. Perhaps that accounts for the ever-present sting of sadness in the book: relationships don't fare well (with one slightly desperate exception), and the sly wisdom of Moore's meditations on time will get under your skin like a splinter. 'Referential,' a wry updating of Nabokov's 'Signs and Symbols,' is a fascinating look at what happens when the mind of one writer collides with the mind of another. In the final story, 'Thank You For Having Me,' the narrator stops her teenager daughter's onslaught of scorn by undressing, mortifying her into silence. Moore's final note is one of hope and even love — not the romantic kind, but the kind that sees the whole world, flaws and all, and embraces it anyway." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Gaunt, splendid....What an irresistible bunch of characters she conjures up....We still need Lorrie Moore to work hard at making us laugh, to remind us that we're frauds, we're all just acting. To unzip words for us and let their sounds and meanings and pun potentialities jingle out like coins. To point out the silver linings...She never lies to us. She never tells us the water's fine. She says, Dive in anyway, 'swim among the dying' while you can. Learn how to suffer in style."
"Review" by , "The short form is her true forte. Her talent is best exhibited in the collection's longest stories (each around 40 pages); her comfort with that length is indicated by her careful avoidance of overplotting, which, of course, dulls the effect of an expansive short story, and by not allowing the stories to seem like the outlines of novels that never got developed."
"Review" by , "One of the best short story writers in America resumes her remarkable balancing act, with a collection that is both hilarious and heartbreaking, sometimes in the same paragraph....In stories both dark and wry, Moore wields a scalpel with surgical precision."
"Review" by , "Moore once again brings her acute intelligence and wit to play....The language has a fizzy rhythm that will have the reader turning the pages. Smart, funny, and overlaid with surprising metaphor....Highly recommended."
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