Lorrie Moore’s short story collection, “Bark,” published

Lorrie Moore, photo by Zane Williams

Vanderbilt Creative Writing Program faculty member Lorrie Moore has published a much-anticipated collection of short stories.  The book, called Bark, published in February 2014 by Knopf, is her first such collection in more than a decade.

About Bark, New York Times editor Parul Sehgal writes in Book Forum:

“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 even if they are, as in the case of one story in Bark, just the “early die-off of the alewives” ringing the lake, their scales glinting in the sun. 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.”

David Gates writes in his review on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Book Review (February 20, 2014):

“The uncrowded format of Bark allows each story the chance it deserves for leisurely examination and appreciation, like the kind of museum retrospective you never get to see anymore. It’s just enough: No admirer of Moore’s will go away either overloaded or unsatisfied, and it lets us contemplate and savor just what makes her work unique.”

Moore talks about the new collection and about her recent move to Vanderbilt in a number of recent interviews; for example in New York Magazine (February 24, 2013) she says, “We’ll see if Nashville changes my writing.  A change is always good for a writer.”

Announcement of Moore’s appointment

Lorrie Moore, whose much praised short-story collections include Birds of America and Like Life, has joined Vanderbilt’s Creative Writing Program faculty as the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English.  She started teaching at Vanderbilt in the spring 2014 semester.

“Lorrie is the essence of original expression and commentary. Her unique voice illuminates her poignant and brilliant writing, and she represents a terrific addition to our world-class English faculty,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “She is the latest example of the university’s strong commitment to investing in exceptional faculty who provide transformative learning opportunities for our students.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Lorrie to Vanderbilt, with its storied history in creative writing, where she will have the opportunity to work with some of the nation’s most promising young writers,” said Carolyn Dever, dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of English.

Moore’s most recent novel, A Gate at the Stairs (Random House), was described in a New York Times book review as “…her most powerful book yet, a book that gives us an indelible portrait of a young woman coming of age in the Midwest in the year after 9/11 and her initiation into the adult world of loss and grief.” Honors for the book include finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Orange Prize: Shortlist, and Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for Fiction. Her books also include Anagrams and Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

“Lorrie is an extraordinary writer,” said Kate Daniels, professor of English and director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Vanderbilt. “Not only one of the most celebrated and widely respected of contemporary American authors, she is esteemed as well for her teaching and mentoring of young writers. Her presence among us will be a great addition to the Nashville literary community and a boon for our growing master of fine arts program in creative writing. We look forward with great happiness to having her join us.”

In 1985 Moore’s career took off with the publication of Self-Help, a collection of short stories that was also her master’s thesis at Cornell University. Earlier, she had graduated summa cum laude from St. Lawrence University.

“Lorrie’s the most influential short story writer working in America, and has been been for the last 20 years,” said Tony Earley, the Samuel Milton Fleming Professor of English at Vanderbilt. “Ordinarily I would say that our MFA students have no idea how lucky they are, but they know exactly how lucky they are. They actually shouted with joy when they heard. I did, too, but first I made sure nobody could hear me.”

Moore is currently the Delmore Schwartz Professor in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her many honors have included fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Lannan Foundation.

Moore has written for The New York Review of BooksThe New York TimesThe New Yorker,The Atlantic Monthly and elsewhere. Other previous honors include the Rea Award for the Short Story, the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the art of the short story, and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. Moore, who is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, spoke at Vanderbilt in January 2012 as part of the Chancellor’s Lecture Series. Her talk was titled “Creative Writing and the Customer Survey.”