Thursday, 10 September 2009

Two Takes on Lorrie Moore

Lorrie Moore is one of my favourite living writers, and it's been too long since she last had a book out (not counting her Collected Stories which, annoyingly, I had all but three of in their seperate editions). Now, finally, her A Gate at the Stairs is out, and I got my copy in the post last night.

I ordered the US edition, rather than the slightly cheaper and easier-to-get UK edition. The reason is purely for the cover. The US Knopf edition, designed by the great Barbara de Wilde, looks like this:

For a book set in the wake of the September 11 attacks, this bleak and fiery image, empty of people, a wait for a plane that will never arrive, is just perfect (and suits the hard, dark edges of Moore's comedy).

On the other hand, the UK Faber & Faber edition, designer unknown, looks like this:

It's a bit too soft and comforting-looking, to my mind.

Incidentally, the US cover image, a photo by Kamil Vojnar was also used on the cover of issue 93 of Granta magazine.


Derek said...

Top cover ... I've been staring at the kerning on "GATE" ... does it look not quite right? Or maybe it's just me.

Allison said...

That's the one bad thing about using stock images. You're bound to run into the same image.

I agree the US edition's choice is much more powerful. The UK edition looks too comforting.. definitely.

JRSM said...

Derek: Actually, you're right--it looks OK on the book jacket, but the scan seems slightly off. Peculiar.

Allison: It's just not right, is it?

John Self said...

Hm, Lorrie Moore, Lorrie Moore. I've only read one of her stories, which I liked, but when I read Adam Mars-Jones's review of her collected stories, I saw completely where he was coming from - and what he said made me doubt whether I'd want to read more of her stories. He describes her humour as "closer to a compulsion than a talent" and that "a Lorrie Moore story can sometimes be like a schoolroom full of precocious kids, every sentence raising both hands and squeaking: 'Me! Me! Choose me!'" I had thought it was just the one story I read ('Terrific Mother') that was like that.

(Interestingly, the Author's Note he refers to has been removed for the paperback, which I bought anyway, just to check if I'm right.)

JRSM said...

I read the same review, and though I can see what his argument is based on, I have so loved her books that I just don't care! Although having said that, 'A Gate at the Stairs', while being mostly very good indeed, did show a couple of wobbly moments--one subplot seemed too incredible to be believed, while the wise-cracking and pun-making had moments of Martin Amis at his most insufferable. And that's possibly the first time Moore and Amis have ever been compared.