Lorrie Moore’s Talent, and Her M.O.

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2 September 2009

Michiko Kakutani likes Lorrie Moore’s new book, A Gate at the Stairs, in whichMs. Moore grapples… with the precariousness of life and the irretrievable losses that accumulate over the years.”  I’m looking forward to reading it.

And I’ve had Lorrie Moorie on the brain.  A friend recently sent me the following Moore quote, from an interview in the September issue of Elle:

The detachment of the artist is kind of creepy. It’s kind of rude, and yet really it’s where art comes from. It’s not the same as courage. It’s closer to bad manners than to courage. […] if you’re going to be a writer, you basically have to say, ‘This is just who I am…’ There’s a certain indefensibility about it. It’s not about loving your community and taking care of it; you’re not attached to the chamber of commerce. It’s a little unsafe. You have to be willing to have only four friends, not 11.

My friend thinks this quote is a bit self-justifying.  Maybe, but… is that a bad thing?  I read it as self-accepting.  I read it as realistic.  Maybe it’s one of those things that’s better left unsaid, but truth is often like that.  I think of these words from Susan Sontag:

Love the truth above wanting to be good.

There is a definite gender element to all this.  A man is less compelled to self-justify his detachment; a woman, I think, more likely feels that she needs to.

So thank you, Ms. Moore.

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