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Sunday, April 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 55.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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TELL ALL

Tell All: Lorrie Moore vs. Madison
Did the UW's star author hate us?


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Dear Tell All: I felt annoyed reading the recent articles about Lorrie Moore, the fiction writer who has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since the 1980s and is now leaving for Vanderbilt University. I used to be a fan of Moore's work, but she turned me off with the way she comported herself as a Madison resident. She made it clear in many interviews how little she thought of the city and its people. This disdain also showed up in her fiction. To me that's unseemly, given that her high UW salary was supported by local taxpayers.

Then there's the fact that Moore didn't do a whole lot for that salary. Her teaching load was extraordinarily light, according to articles. I guess that's a perk of being a famous writer, but it rubs me the wrong way as a taxpayer.

I also resent the fact that this celebrity in our midst had practically no presence in the community. Her appearances were few and far between. So much for the public getting a whole lot from paying her salary all those years.

Plus, Moore hasn't even had the decency to say goodbye. As far as I can tell, her only statement in response to local media's questions about her departure was "no comment."

Good riddance, Lorrie Moore.

Close Reader

Dear Reader: I don't see a downside to the fact that one of America's most celebrated authors lived here for almost 30 years. Okay, maybe she mostly kept to herself, but so did J.D. Salinger; so did Marcel Proust. It's not such an unusual quality in a great writer. Her occasional critical comment about Madison was not so unusual, either. Think of James Joyce and Dublin, or Philip Roth and Newark. Such writers look beneath the surface and perceive the imperfections in the places they live.

How cool is it that Madison has been chronicled in Moore's books, which may be read for generations to come? I think that's worth whatever the UW paid her.


Do you have a question about life or love in Madison? Write Tell All, 101 King St., Madison, WI 53703. Or email tellall@isthmus.com.

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