Sunday, January 9, 2011

On Lorrie Moore's Birds of America

I give you an oh yes moment, then some hearty laughs from Moore's short story collection (which is marvelous--beautiful and real life prose with lovely doses of subtle / clever / smart humor the likes of which I've never seen before).

"Staring out through the windshield, off into the horizon, Abby began to think that all the beauty and ugliness and turbulence one found scattered through nature, one could also find in people themselves, all collected there, all together in a single place. No matter what terror or loveliness the earth could produce--winds, seas--a person could produce the same, lived with the same, lived with all that mixed-up nature inside, every bit. There was nothing as complex in the world--no flower or stone--as a single hello from a human being."

Did you say OH YES? Makes me think about the food chain, a human eating a fish who ate a smaller fish who ate a fly who ate.... It all gathers and accrues and we become everything and each other. I almost wish I could write an essay for the story class I'm teaching.... tomorrow?! School starts tomorrow???  

And now some Tom Swifties, as she calls them (though the way she uses them in a story makes them even better, even more clever and narratively acute):

I have to go to the hardware store, he said wrenchingly.

This hot dog's awful, he said frankly.

I like a good sled dog, she said huskily.

There's never been an accident, she said recklessly.

You're only average, he said meanly.

Take a bow, he said sternly.


Esther Montgomery said...

I once began a campaign against adverbs.


mr_subjunctive said...

Have you read Moore's Anagrams? One of my favorite books ever.

mr_subjunctive said...

(Also, Esther Montgomery: I trust the campaign concluded disappointingly?)

Benjamin Vogt said...

Esther--How'd that go?
Mr. S!--Birds is my first Moore book. I read more nonfiction these days then fiction. Non. That's like nonfat, isn't it?

Esther Montgomery said...

Benjamin and Mr Subjunctive.

It was a while back but here's the link for where it began.

How did it go? Adverbs still exist. Perhaps I should have a go at abolishing adjectives instead. No. I like them.


Benjamin Vogt said...

I hate adjectives, Esther! Sometimes I make my students write sentences without any AFTER they use lame ones in an attemt to be more descriptive and detailed. Whenever I ask them to write descriptively with all 5 senses about, say, a flower, I get: The red flower is tall. Its sturdy stem seems strong. The warm flower is nice. The green, soft leaves are green and soft.