by Jim Ridley
Author Lorrie Moore is about to leave the building, the UW's Helen C. White Hall, to be exact. She's headed to Nashville, where she'll assume an endowed chair in Vanderbilt University's English department this fall.
In recent years, Vanderbilt has claimed several of the UW's most sought-after creative writing teachers, including poet Rick Hilles and fiction writer Nancy Reisman. Moore might be the most coveted of all.
That sounds about right. On the occasion of Moore's Vanderbilt appearance last year, Ed Tarkington of Chapter16.org wrote:
No American writer still at work is more obviously influential than Lorrie Moore. With Self-Help — a wry, simultaneously earnest and ironic collection of stories that not-so-gently ridicules the zeitgeist of the 1980s — Moore took perhaps permanent ownership of the second-person voice, inspiring at least two students in every creative-writing workshop in America to write a story beginning with the word "You." With "People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed-Onk," from Birds of America (1998), Moore drew on personal experience to write the definitive account of the terror and grief experienced by families with children stricken by cancer (the "Peed-Onk" of the title refers to a pediatric oncology ward) in a tone all the more harrowing for its matter-of-fact directness and lack of sentimentality.