Friday, February 20, 2004

Self-Help by Lorrie Moore

A book of short stories, many written in the second person, assigned to me for one of the creative writing classes I took in college. Some are funny, some are sad, some are funny and sad, most try to be funny and sad. “What is Seized” is probably the best, although my memory of one of my creative writing teachers is always pushing “To Fill” on me. "What Is Seized" is about a woman whose parents divorced dealing with the death of her mother and their bitterness toward her father.

Cold men destroy women. They woo them with something personable that they bring out for show, something annexed to their souls like a fake greenhouse, lead you in, and you think you see life and vitality and sun and greenness, and then when you love them, they lead you out into their real soul, a drafty, cavernous, empty ballroom, inexorably arched and vaulted and mocking you with its echoes—you hear all you have sacrificed, all you have given, landing with a loud clunk. They lock the greenhouse and you are as tiny as a figure in an architect’s drawing, a faceless splotch, a blur of stick limbs abandoned in some voluminous desert of stone.

If my wife read that, I wonder how much she would think it applies to our relationship. Another good one is “How to Become a Writer,” if for nothing else for these priceless reminders from creative writing class. But does it work? Why should we care about this character? Have you earned this cliché?

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