See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary Cover Image
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On hand as of Dec 10 4:41am
(Hardcover Nonfiction)


A welcome surprise: more than fifty prose pieces, gathered together for the first time, by one of America's most revered and admired novelists and short-story writers, whose articles, essays, and cultural commentary--appearing in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Harper's Magazine, and elsewhere--have been parsing the political, artistic, and media idiom for the last three decades.

From Lorrie Moore's earliest reviews of novels by Margaret Atwood and Nora Ephron, to an essay on Ezra Edelman's 2016 O.J. Simpson documentary, and in between: Moore on the writing of fiction (the work of V. S. Pritchett, Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Munro, Stanley Elkin, Dawn Powell, Nicholson Baker, et al.) . . . on the continuing unequal state of race in America . . . on the shock of the shocking GOP . . . on the dangers (and cruel truths) of celebrity marriages and love affairs . . . on the wilds of television (The Wire, Friday Night Lights, Into the Abyss, Girls, Homeland, True Detective, Making a Murderer) . . . on the (d)evolving environment . . . on terrorism, the historical imagination, and the world's newest form of novelist . . . on the lesser (and larger) lives of biography and the midwifery between art and life (Anaïs Nin, Marilyn Monroe, John Cheever, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eudora Welty, Bernard Malamud, among others) . . . and on the high art of being Helen Gurley Brown . . . and much, much more.
     "Fifty years from now, it may well turn out that the work of very few American writers has as much to say about what it means to be alive in our time as that of Lorrie Moore" (Harper's Magazine).

About the Author

LORRIE MOORE is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. She is the recipient of the Irish Times International Prize for Literature, a Lannan Foundation fellowship, as well as the PEN/Malamud Award and the Rea Award for her achievement in the short story. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Praise For…

The critics welcome Lorrie Moore's See What Can Be Done

"From one of America's most brilliant writers ... a delight ..."


"Incisive, wide-ranging ... marvelously nuanced ... Moore is a lively guest at the party, but she never tries to steal the show."

--Kate Kellaway, The Guardian

"A testament to the breadth of Moore's intellect. There are pieces here on everyone from Nora Ephron to Kurt Vonnegut to Edna St. Vincent Millay, and everything from Christmas pop songs to 9/11. What unifies these pieces--what must galvanize any such collection--is the author's voice, a prevailing sensibility. 'One must throw all that one is into language,' she writes, 'like a Christmas tree hurled into a pool.' At its best, See What Can Be Done is not only a call to that ideal, but a fulfillment of it."

--Danny Heitman, The Christian Science Monitor

"34 years of lively, often humorous critical prose. Moore's wicked wit is demonstrated by the opening sentence ... What sustain overall this group of essays and commentary is a continuous critical spirit that stays in touch with life."

--William H. Pritchard, The Wall Street Journal

"Whip-smart and thought-provoking."


"Intimate and approachable ... See What Can Be Done flooded my veins with pleasure. Had she wanted, Moore could have had an important career as a theater or television critic. When writing teachers pass this book to their students, the title will be read as a simple command."

--Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Lorrie Moore's writing and analysis, as with her fiction, is so consistently smart, funny, and unexpected that the essays end up feeling far more compulsively readable than it seems essays have any right to be. It's like she's invented some sort of extremely healthy snack that possesses all the addictive qualities of junk food. It's not only an extremely good-looking book, it's also an extremely good book, period."

--Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins

"Fascinating insights into one of America's finest short story writers and her ever-evolving understanding of her craft ... her incisive readings are a must for budding authors ... this rewarding collection from a wonder of American letters provides a rich reading list, while Moore, cogent, distinctive, and entertaining, reiterates what great art can do."


"This collection of 60 lucid and erudite cultural essays by the award-winning fiction writer is a treasure."

--Jane Ciabattari,

"Deft, graceful essays from a sharply incisive writer."


"A fantastic collection ... The essay on writing alone is worth the price of admission. If Lorrie Moore is not the Miles Davis of cultural criticism, she is surely the Bill Evans; she's got those brilliant harmonies and that swinging incisive wit."

--Ben Sidran

"Acclaimed fiction writer Moore has compiled her nonfiction writings into a marvelous collection ... a window onto the trajectory of both late 20th-century American culture and Moore's development as a writer. Throughout, her chief virtue as a critic is shown to be a sympathetic, generous eye ... a boon to any lover of smart cultural criticism."

--Publishers Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9781524732486
ISBN-10: 1524732486
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2018
Pages: 432
Language: English