“‘Oh, divorce will do that to you totally,’ she said reassuringly. She poured him some wine. ‘It’s like a trick. It’s like someone puts a rug over a trapdoor and says, ‘Stand there.’ And so you do. Then boom.'”
In front of a packed Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium in Goldwin Smith Hall, Lorrie Moore, MFA ’82, gave a free public reading yesterday as part of a series of readings from various authors sponsored by the English Department.
Moore is Cornell’s 2004-05 Distinguished Alumni Artist Award recipient. Author of Birds of America, Like Life and Self Help, Moore has also been awarded the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships along with the American Academy Award in Literature.
As one of the first professors of Master of Fine Arts students at Cornell, Moore’s professor, Lamar Herrin, english, said of teaching Moore, “it was a pure pleasure from beginning to end.”
Self Help, Moore’s first book, was published in 1985 and consisted of a collection of short stories from her thesis in the MFA program. Herrin spoke of Moore’s pervasive influence over his students after the publication of her book, stating that “after that book, the only literature I received was second person narration.”
Instead of reading from her most recent book, Birds of America, Moore opted to read a selection from one of her short stories entitled “Debarking “, which was published in The New Yorker in December 2003. The story revolved around a sarcastic middle-aged newly divorced man, struggling to come to grips with his new life in the single world after 15 years of marriage. It dealt with his attempt at dating and his great effort to better understand his eight-year-old daughter.
“She is amazing. The best in this generation,” said Maggie Gerrity, Ph.D. student at Binghamton University. Gerrity traveled to Cornell from Binghamton solely to hear Moore read.
The story “Debarking” will be part of Moore’s next collection of short stories that she says will be published “sometime in the near to distant future”.
“We recently read two short stories of hers in our class at Binghamton, “said Kathy Henion ’97. “They just absolutely blew us away. The humor she uses is just so great.”
Moore’s work has also been published in Best American Short Stories and Best American Short Stories of the Century (1999). She will be honored today with an awards presentation and reception in the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.
Archived article by Emily Gordon
Sun Staff Writer