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With Anagrams, Lorrie Moore deftly weaves a complex plot together with sensitivity and a razor-sharp wit.
Lorrie Moore is the award-winning author of the story collections Self-Help, Like Life, and Birds of America, and the novels Anagrams and Who will Run the Frog Hospital? and A Gate at the Stairs. She currently teaches English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Who exactly is Benna, the 33-year-old poetry teacher (or singer? or aerobics instructor?) we meet in this inventive novel? It is hard to say. 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 (``All the world's a stage we're going through''). For deep down, Benna is terrified of the contingencies of reality (``One gust of wind and Santa became Satan''), longs for the very continuity she mocks. This won't be everyone's cup of tea. Still, the virtuosity of Moore's widely praised Self-Help ( LJ 3/15/85) is once again evident, and when she fleetingly reveals the vulnerability beneath the sleight of hand, it is very affecting. Elise Chase, Forbes Lib., Northampton, Mass.