Lorrie Moore Biography


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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(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Lorrie Moore (born Marie Lorena Moore) was born in Glen Falls, New York, in 1957. She is the second of four children born to professional, middle-class parents (her father an insurance executive and her mother a nurse-turned-housewife). Although both of her parents had harbored literary ambitions in their youth, neither of them was particularly supportive of Moore’s decision to become a writer, both believing that she should do something more practical.

Moore won a regents scholarship and attended St. Lawrence University in New York, which she followed by two years of paralegal work. In 1980, she enrolled in Cornell University’s M.F.A. program; there she had the good fortune of studying under the novelist Alison Lurie, who proved to be very supportive of her work. Upon Lurie’s recommendation, Moore’s work was accepted by literary agent Melanie Jackson, and in 1983, when she was twenty-six, Moore’s first collection of short stories, Self-Help, was accepted for publication by Knopf.

Moore moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to accept an assistant professorship in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin. She had some difficulty adjusting to life in the Midwest, so for a while she continued to spend her summers in New York. Moore advanced to the position of full professor at the University of Wisconsin and settled in Madison with her husband, an attorney, and her son, Benjamin.