Lorrie Moore: Writing’s Natural Place is As a Passionate Side Hustle
The Author of I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home Takes the Lit Hub Questionnaire
Lorrie Moore’s latest novel, I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home, is available now.
Who do you most wish would read your book?
Someone who loves to make operas out of novels. So… Massenet? Also anyone who is susceptible to letting the voices of a narrative wash over them and settle in some dramatic fashion in their brains. The book won’t work for the prim, the literal, the unromantic.
It will work for daydreamers and people who haven’t entirely ruled out the existence of, well, anything. It will also work for people who like to reread, because some backing up and starting over may be helpful—though I realize that’s a lot to ask.
Which of your characters is your favorite?
I am fond of the men in a couple of my short stories—Harry in “Vissi d’Arte,” Ira in “Debarking”—these are stories from Like Life and Bark—plus Finn in my new novel. These men are all a little pitiful yet carrying on in a fashion that is close to bravery but not quite.
The endings of their narratives plunge them into unsparkled bleakness but I feel they will bounce back, because despite everything they are attached to life. They are hanging on because, despite everything, they suspect that existence is essentially a comedy, and so it all may conclude with a mad, jazzy wedding: Who knows.
Name a classic you feel guilty about never having read?
When asked this question, I always say Flaubert’s A Sentimental Education so I must not feel that guilty about it. If one says anything enough times it becomes a kind of boast. Also a chant.
I don’t know why I haven’t read it, but maybe like certain countries one realizes one will probably never get to visit, I am up against life and its strict contours in the time and energy department.
How do you decide what to read next?
Alas, I almost never decide. I mostly just find myself reading it. I may find a book mentioned in an essay or hear it recommended by a friend. A book may have a relationship to something I’m working on. I may order something and it may sit for a while. But then suddenly I’m immersed.
Right now I’m reading Erika Mann’s School for Barbarians, the English in which is so perfect I feel Auden (to whom she was married) may have helped her. No translator is listed on my particular 1939 edition. Well, she did write in both German and English, as did her brother.
What is your favorite book to give as a gift?
Ethan Hawke’s A Bright Ray of Darkness. People are very surprised to discover he’s such a terrific novelist. I could go on at some length about the many talents of Mr. Hawke—was he not spectacular as John Brown in the screen adaptation of The Good Lord Bird? Et cetera.
By the way, The Good Lord Bird is another excellent book to give as a gift.
What is your favorite way to procrastinate when you are meant to be writing?
Wordle. I am waiting for the word to be PEONY, which is my starting word, and am wondering if it already occurred and I missed it.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be instead?
I’d be a bad singer or an okay waitress. But I would undoubtedly be writing in my spare time. Just as I do now. Writing’s natural place is as a passionate side hustle.
I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore is available via Knopf.