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Thursday, April 17, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 46.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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TELL ALL

Tell All: For and against Lorrie Moore
Readers split over the departing UW author


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Dear Tell All: I second Close Reader, who was fed up with star author Lorrie Moore on the occasion of her leaving the UW for Vanderbilt University ("Lorrie Moore vs. Madison," 3/8/2013). Close Reader focused on Moore's often-expressed disdain for Madison during the three decades she lived here. Tell All, you responded that it was worth having a writer of Moore's stature in town, especially since she chronicled Madison in her many fictional masterpieces.

Many masterpieces? I agree that Moore wrote some wonderful stories early in her career - the ones that made her reputation. But what has she written lately that's of any value? A Gate at the Stairs, her recent novel, was embarrassing, let's face it. Her stories in the New Yorker over the past decade or more have simply repeated what she did earlier, with inferior quality.

Moore's output seems to have dwindled, too, suggesting that she's all but run out of ideas. It makes you wonder how she spent her time as a UW professor, given the minimal teaching requirements.

Self Helper

Dear Tell All: I've heard a lot of griping locally about Lorrie Moore over the years. The letter from Close Reader is only the latest example. Personally, I find it pathetic and petty, proving what a small town we are. What's not to like about having a witty, brilliant, nationally renowned writer living in Madison?

The complaints about Moore seem like jealousy or, even worse, a kind of reverse snobbery. Moore is a literary celebrity, so she must be too big for her britches. How sad that we subjected her to that attitude. And no wonder she's ready to take off for another city.

Madison's treatment of Lorrie Moore reminds me of its treatment of another genius in our midst: Frank Lloyd Wright. Madison had no use for the eccentric architect during his lifetime, and only decades later decided that it was kind of cool to celebrate his local ties. I predict the same thing will happen with Moore in about the year 2043.

Head in Hands

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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