Lorrie Moore emerged in the late twentieth century as a strong new voice in American fiction. Born Marie Lorena Moore, she was later nicknamed Lorrie by her parents, Henry T. Moore, Jr., an insurance executive, and Jeanne Day Moore, who left a career in nursing to become a homemaker. As students, both parents had demonstrated literary aspirations; her father wrote short stories while a classmate of Evan S. Connell and Vincent Canby at Dartmouth College. However, Moore was not encouraged by her parents to pursue writing as a career, even though she displayed an early interest in creative writing.
As an undergraduate at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, she chose English as her major—despite her enthusiasm for playing the piano—and was editor of the literary journal. When she was nineteen years old, Moore won Seventeen magazine’s fiction-writing contest for her short story “Raspberries.” She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1978 and worked as a paralegal in Manhattan for two years before entering the M.F.A. program at Cornell University.
At Cornell, she studied with novelist Alison Lurie, whose agent presented Moore’s work to the Knopf publishing company in 1983. Two years later, Knopf published Moore’s first collection of short fiction, Self-Help. The stories, most of which were written as part of her master’s thesis at Cornell, mimic the style of self-improvement manuals of the day. “How to Become a Writer” ostensibly is pitched to budding authors, encouraging them first to consider abandoning their literary ambitions. The disjointed narrative of “How to Be an Other Woman” relates the shifting identity of a woman narrator who becomes involved romantically with a married man and discovers that she is not the only “other woman” in the arrangement. Notably, Moore’s use of second-person point of view in Self-Help represents an experiment with perspective that continues throughout the body of her work....
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