Monday June 29th, 2009

Moore Preview?

One of the new books I’m most looking forward to this fall is Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs. It’s her first book of new material in 11 years, and her first novel since 1994’s excellent Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? Moore has a short story in this week’s New Yorker, which may be an excerpt from the novel. I’m guessing yes. Here’s how it starts:

The cold came late that fall, and the songbirds were caught off guard. By the time the snow and wind began in earnest, too many had been suckered into staying, and instead of flying south, instead of already having flown south, they were huddled in people’s yards, their feathers puffed for some modicum of warmth. I was looking for a babysitting job. I was a student and needed money, so I would walk from interview to interview in these attractive but wintry neighborhoods, past the eerie multitudes of robins pecking at the frozen ground, dun gray and stricken—though what bird in the best of circumstances does not look a little stricken—until at last, late in my search, at the end of a week, startlingly, the birds had disappeared. I did not want to think about what had happened to them. Or, rather, that is an expression—of politeness, a false promise of delicacy—for in fact I wondered about them all the time: imagining them dead, in stunning heaps in some killing cornfield outside of town, or dropped from the sky in twos and threes for miles down along the Illinois state line.