Kara Janeczko, “The rules of urban living”

“Kept awake by a mouse rearranging its furniture within her walls, Lorraine called Simon in the middle of the night. “It’s reckless,” she told him, “how you throw around love.” She told him everything she’d been thinking and feeling; that his love felt shallow, light, easily shucked, that she was disappointed in him, that it was about working things out, pushing through hard times, making it last. She lay in bed and let the cat rub its chin against the phone…”

(Full story at Anderbo)

Stories like that are the only stories here

Jenny Turner is not quite fair, to suggest, in her London Review take on Lorrie Moore’s Collected Stories, that Moore’s work is the forerunner of chick lit. Yes, Moore writes on 20s-ish and 30s-ish women searching, sometimes desperately, often unsuccessfully, always with humor, for love. But so do plenty of other writers, and because she does this and is a woman, that doesn’t make her responsible for Running in heels and its ilk. Where Turner has a point is in noting the fundamental sameness of Moore’s stories, the similar tone, the insinuation that something here is deeply meaningful and of purpose, which insinuation, one tends to think, after reading a few, comes not to much. In this, although their work is otherwise quite different, I think of her and Murakami and Julian Barnes as being of a piece, great comic writers who do well when, most of the time, they stick to the comic. Or, in Murakami’s case, the atmospherically weird. And who falter when they try to do more. As in the cancer stuff, when overplayed, even ever so slightly, in Moore’s work. Think of her “Peed onk” story (“People like that…”), which is her best-known and which, for me, feels all through like a gimmick, and for that is inferior to the also-sad, but lighter-on-its-feet, and thus wonderful “You’re ugly, too.” And perhaps, as Turner implies, this inability to try to do “more,” in some standard New Yorker this-is-an-Important-Story way, is why Moore has let her pen go dry. A pit, that.

My youth in literature, the pre-history

A while back I wondered, where is the literature of no-wave/new-wave New York? It’s still not here, near as I can tell, but memoirists are stirring, to judge by this Peter Nolan Smith piece, and this only tangentially related, but infinitely suggestive post on 70s graffiti, by the only tangentially related, infinitely suggestive Luc Sante. Where memoir goes, one hopes, fiction will follow. So whoever’s gearing up to write that great unwritten Cost vs. Revs novel, go to it.