The inimitable (it’s true! countless have tried!) Lorrie Moore, whose story collections in the 1980s and 90s catapulted people into MFA programs the way popular legal dramas like “LA Law” bloated law school applications, is taking wing. The author of mordant, hilarious, and best-selling collections like Self Help, Like Life, and Birds of America is leaving the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she’s made her home since Ronald Reagan won re-election, and flying south to Vanderbilt in Nashville. (Nashville is on everybody’s list these days; it’s a scene and it’s serene, apparently. And thanks to Ann Patchett & company, it’s got a bookstore.)
Moore has won every kind of award, but her greatest distinction must be the way her readers embrace her and her characters. Indeed, over the last 30 years, Moore may be the author most cited as having influenced a young person during a formative stage in life. This rare reader/writer symbiosis is perhaps most simply exemplified by the pitch-perfect empathy pulsing in the title of one of Moore’s most famous short stories: “People Like That Are the Only People Here.” Lucky Vandy. Enjoy the journey, Ms. Moore.