History: This book was published in 1986.
Plot: A linking of short stories involving Benna and Gerard. Interwoven in fantasy and reality, they both take on different personas, occupations, ages, and environments. It is a collection of short stories, made into a book, because of keeping the man and womans names the same.
Review: Lorrie Moore is most successful at short stories and one of the reasons I love this book so much is that she’s managed to really integrate the short story format into a novel. Moore is also the queen of funny/sad, although upon second reading, I was especially struck by the sadness of the story. The book is an approximation of an anagram, different characters refracted into different situations. Almost an anagram, but not quite.I never really got a sense of who Benna was. She hidesfrom us, from herselfbehind imaginary identities, relationships, and scenarios in which elements of character and action are transposed like the letters of those anagrams she scribbles on napkins. Her fantasies are offered as straight narrative along with a stream of wisecracks. For deep down, Benna is terrified of the contingencies of reality, longs for the very continuity she mocks.
Opening Line: “Gerard Maines lived across the hall from a woman named Benna, who four minutes into any conversation managed to say the word penis.”
Closing Line: “I swear, she is a genius.”
Quotes: "All the world's a stage we're going through."
"One gust of wind and Santa became Satan."