More on Moore: ‘Stop trying so hard’

Posted in book reviews, books, Salon by Diane on September 1, 2009

gateatstairsSalon critic Stephanie Zacharek calls “A Gate at the Stairs” exhausting and unsatisfying in a review posted today. Her theory: Author Lorrie Morre’s aggressive cleverness works better “when diced into smallish bits.”

In other words, there’s a reason why she’s so acclaimed as a short story writer, less accomplished as a novelist.

Which isn’t to say Zacharek doesn’t like parts of “A Gate at the Stairs.” Like me, she has a mixed view, although her criticism takes a different form. In a nutshell:

“Moore isn’t lazy,” Zacharek writes. “She has the exact opposite problem: This is a case of a writer’s working too hard. She doesn’t allow enough air around her sentences — there’s no space for the gags to breathe, and her brainy contemplations continue to stack up until they resemble piles of clutter.”

The critic doesn’t address Moore’s awkward plotting, which actually speaks to the same problem. Another reminder that novels are a different beast than short stories.

Read the review. Earlier: ‘A Gate at the Stairs’ is good, but is it great?


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