Tim Martin

Laughter in the Dark

Bark: Stories

By

Faber & Faber 192pp £14.99 order from our bookshop
 

Lorrie Moore’s energetically forlorn, desperately hilarious short stories seem to take a while to compose. Bark is her first new collection in 15 years. But the pieces in this volume show that she has lost none of her capacity to disturb while she amuses. These eight stories are crawling with jokes, quirks, asides and comic observations to the point that it’s almost possible to overlook how sad they are, and how obsessed with death, decline, sickness, fading and a roster of personal and political betrayals. ‘If you’re suicidal and you don’t actually kill yourself,’ says one character, articulating what seems like a theme of the collection, ‘you become known as “wry”.’

She is an expert in the opening salvo. One story begins: ‘Tom arrived with his suitcase. Its John Kerry sticker did not even say “For President,” so it seemed as if John Kerry might be the owner or designer of the bag.’ Another: ‘The grumblings

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