A writer pal emails us with another account of Friday night's Lorrie Moore reading at the Hammer ...
Speaking of the Hammer, Lorrie Moore and Madame Mona were good, not great. Simpson was not annoying, except in that coy and cloying way she has of speaking as if she's letting the audience in on a very special secret. She mentioned a successful writer she and Lorrie met when they were all together at Yaddo 24 years ago who was in love with Lorrie, but then she wouldn't tell us his name.
Lorrie Moore was, as you can imagine, warm and occasionally funny and very much a woman from Wisconsin - in the best possible way. She read from a novel which has been in progress for a long time and the short story, The Juniper Tree, which was in The New Yorker a month ago or so. Not my favorite story. I didn't like it when I read it in The New Yorker and I liked it no better in her voice. She called it a "ghost story" and said it was a departure for her, but it was not a trip in the right direction. Supposedly it was about sexual jealousy and mutilation, but it never got there for me. The novel, on the other hand, was wonderful and she stopped just when we wanted to hear more. I look forward to it whenever it arrives.
Moore did say the story came from a dream she had of a dead friend -- and then she said "when you're writing a story, you're writing a dream you never had." Lovely. She also said she works very slowly, very -- one story a year. It was a good reminder to the writers in the audience to take our time.
The biggest problems were the two women's soft, monotone voices, the warmth of the room, the very dim lights, and the long drive to the Hammer through Friday traffic. I looked around. A lot of people were sleeping. Moore and Simpson needed some modulation and an occasional look at the audience to keep us awake. I thought the evening more interesting than the Academy Awards, but it was, in many ways, the same safe, sedate, soporific event.