For those of you who find it hard to set time aside to read, but still love the pull of a good novel, I introduce to you Short Story Sundays! Basically, I will review a short story or even an essay that I loved each Sunday (most of them will be recommendations) instead of a full length novel or play that you can easily pick up, read, and digest in the span of an hour.
This week’s short story comes to us from Lorrie Moore. This was a story I had to read three times for three different English classes, and I consider it a good introduction to Lorrie Moore, so here goes. You can access the story here.
SUMMARY: Francie, an aspiring writer, details the journey of how her passion for writing is born and blossoms. However, the reception of her writing remains the same: there are lukewarm responses, discouraging responses, and of course confused responses. Francie rewrites the same themes into multiple storylines, and it seems that no one seems to understand her process or what she’s writing about. Not even those in her creative writing classes seem to understand what she is trying to say; they’d rather smoke cigars and turn up their noses. Throughout the story, we accompany Francie throughout her maturation and fight our way through her confusion alongside her as she discovers, (or doesn’t?) how to become a writer.
REVIEW: One thing I absolutely adore about Moore’s writing is that it is unique. It has a specific voice that is incredibly identifiable as only her’s. Moore’s writing also keeps you guessing, she mentions in her title that the story is about falling into a cliche but her writing is anything but. Her figurative language is unnerving but at the same time makes complete sense, and even though I have read this story multiple times over there are many aspects that I still do not understand and I love that about her writing.
The stream-of-consciousness style suits this story well, as it appears disjointed but is actually masterfully being held together by a few, select, story mechanisms, such as the parallelism in Francie’s life. Francie’s voice as a character is clearcut and quirky- she is leading the life of someone who has a passion but has no idea what to do about it, and Moore’s writing only exemplifies this.
This story almost reads as a series of diary entries or even a hazy memoir looking back (Francie is of course, predictably narrating from the future) rather than a short story. The plotline is there, but strays away from the basic beginning, middle, and end structure.
One thing I love about this story is Francie’s miserable failures. The story showcases the gross, unidentifiable, confusing, and frustrating side of writing- none of the flowery sentences that talented writers will eventually arrive at. All of Francie’s story ideas are near awful; she has not yet reached her full potential. And yet, the story hints at future success for Francie, so just because all hope seems to be lost throughout Francie’s past, it does not necessitate any part of her future. And that as a lesson, I think, is one that is not touched on enough, especially on the subject of writing.
If you enjoy reading something slightly out of your comfort zone, then this story is for you.
RATING: 4/5 stars.