I know Lorrie Moore only thanks to Goodreads and my wandering into it. Here in Italy she's completely unknown (and then not translated, that's a pity, because a readin in translation would have helped me a little). I know that she's very appreciated, even if a considerable part of Goodreads can't share the most common phrases about her.
This is in particular was one of her books with the highest average rating (4.12/5 with 8394 ratings, quite reliable). It focuses on human loneliness, nearly always of the same kind in almost all the short stories. There's a quote I liked very much:
One of the problems with people in Chicago, she remembered, was that they were never lonely at the same time. Their sadness occurred in isolation, lurched and spazzed, sent them spinning fizzly back into empty, padded corners, disconnected and alone. (Willing)
Surely it can't be applied to all the lonely protagonists of the collection, but they would understand this quote in the most sympathetic disposition, and I understand it too. This is the most important fact in my read: I could deeply understand what Lorrie Moore was exposing in a precise way because..well..I could be a character of hers. Actually I would appreciate her silent ironic touch on my unsuited loneliness. In fact all the characters can't really relate to their husband, boyfriend or even friends. There are even some levels represented: the lover, the family and the community. "Community Life" is eloquent in this case and my favorite one. Why this loneliness? These badly arranged couples? Bad choices committed for not being alone. But not necessarily, sometimes just because the future can not be known and in the present the other seems interesting, likable, when time doesn't have ruined the first impression yet. Unfortunately then comes the deception and a routine which traps them in dreary cohabitations. And the description of the light sense of "existential maladjustment", the sensation of wasting time occupying the wrong spot for your bodies, the isolation, alienation and loneliness..well, I've felt that they were described with a deep sense of truth and comprehension by Lorrie Moore.
But three stars are not given randomly. Even if I appreciated the subjects and how they were reproduced, sometimes the stories were..not exactly boring but heavy and long to follow, I was not always interested in some characters, and...I fell asleep one time. The feeling of light boredom overwhelmed me after the first short stories, near the end of the collection. I can't fully explain what doesn't work in the telling, maybe just the pacing, a bit uncaring of vitalizing itself. Surely the perspective is inward-looking, so it was more important to know the characters than the plot (even if it clearly exists and developes), but sometimes it was not enough to not make me lose attention, given that the suggested feelings were similar.