Year 4 / Book 29: Terrific Mother

29) Terrific Mother by Lorrie Moore

So, disclaimer – this is a *short* book: it’s been a busy week. It’s part of a set of Faber short stories published recently (called, appropriately, Faber Stories), which includes stories from a wide range of authors. Other disclaimer: I love Lorrie Moore, and she can basically write no wrong in my eyes. If you haven’t read Anagrams, Self-Help, The Gate at the Stairs, Bark, or Birds of America, then stop reading this post now and go buy them all! She’s an utterly wonderful writer: insightful, funny, concise, powerful, poignant and consistently witty and smart.

She also has the ability to wrongfoot, as she does at the opening of this story – in the first paragraph, we learn that Adrienne has accidentally killed the baby of friends of hers, and we look set for an exploration of that shocking opening news: but actually, Adrienne ends up with a new partner at a retreat, and it is the exploration of her new relationship and her own coming back into the light to a sense of self that we experience.

There are some great minor characters – the mysterious masseuse Ilke is particularly beautifully sketched – and Adrienne becomes rightfully annoyed by those who are surrounding her: at dinners laden with pretension, and in a relationship which start on thin foundations and begins to feel whimsically slight.

What impresses about Moore’s writing here, and in so many of her books, is how much she manages to convey in so few words and pages. I genuinely felt by the end that I knew so much about Adrienne, and her emotional and psychological inner life – or, to lapse into cliche, the journey she has gone on.

So this might only be about 60 pages, and probably the shortest book I’ve read this year, but it packed one of the largest emotional punches. Moore is, simply, a marvellous writer.

Score: 8.5/10

BUY IT NOW; Terrific Mother: Faber Stories

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