Monday, May 31, 2004

Lisa Moore, Degrees of Nakedness, 1995.

I've forgotten why Ms. Moore's collection of short stories was recommended to me; that's one of the unfortunate disadvantages of meaning to blog about a book, and then putting it off for three-ish weeks.

So. Her book is weak. It has flashes of description and characterization that are quite good, but for the most part, she's far too concerned with sex and far too little concerned with trying to tell an interesting story well. The stories reflect an obsession on the part of the narrators, an inability to fully comprehend what sex means--if it does--and what role it should play in their lives.

There are, as I said, a couple of moments that work fairly well.

From "Sea Urchin":
This is the sad thing about loving. It's a skill, like working up a clay pot on a wheel. As though the form is slipping to life by itself, the hands slicked with juicy mud are doing all they can to contain it. Just the tiniest squeezing of muscles in the hands keeps the pot perfect. It's such a shock to throw a pot for the first time and see how unsimple it is, to have it skew, deform and collapse in seconds, against what you expect.(30).

It seems to me that while this passage doesn't share a new analogy, it spells out the analogy well. It's a simile that really does work, and invites repetition: it shares the messy delicateness that is trying to love, trying to maintain a relationship, and it does so simply and without over-elaborating upon the idea.

A real problem with these stories is evident just after the point that this passage comes from: the slipshod nature of the jumps from one idea to the next, intended to create juxtapositions that ask the reader to make sense of some oddly related ideas, instead are jarring and startling to the reader. I wonder if perhaps the speaker hasn't fully made sense of the relations herself, and so the disconnects remain disconnected, rather than linking smoothly.

In "Haloes," Moore uses a line that I find intriguing: "the haiku is like a finger pointing at the moon. It's important that it's not a bejewlled or perfect finger. It only points to something" (136). While it seems to me that this is the idea behind each of Moore's stories, I'm inclined to argue that the person pointing needs to have some sense of the "why" behind the pointing, and I'm not convinced that that "why" is present in these stories--or, in fact, that the finger is pointing at something worthy of consideration.

1 comment:

getsome said...

Humm...i see a small pattern here in the recent posts. In keeping with this pattern I see before I recommend the following:

The Lover's Tongue: A Merry Romp Through the Language of Love and Sex by Mark Merton. The book explains the origins and historical development of words about love and sex.