Terrific Mother
Faber Stories, a landmark series of individual volumes, presents masters of the short story form at work in a range of genres and styles. Adrienne is living in a puritanical age, when the best compliment a childless woman can get is: 'You'd make a terrific mother'. That's when she goes to her friends' Labor Day picnic and accidentally kills their baby.The shock of this scene is expertly packed into two brief paragraphs. What follows is Adrienne's retreat from life and her attempt to return to it.Her sharp scepticism about the people around her is achingly funny. Yet beyond derision there is forgiveness and something along the lines of love.Bringing together past, present and future in our ninetieth year, Faber Stories is a celebratory compendium of collectable work.

Terrific Mother Details

TitleTerrific Mother
Author
ReleaseMar 7th, 2019
PublisherFaber Faber
ISBN-139780571351831
Rating
GenreShort Stories, Fiction

Terrific Mother Review

  • Sam Quixote
    January 1, 1970
    For years I’ve heard the likes of Nick Hornby and David Sedaris gush over Lorrie Moore but, for no real reason beyond lethargy, I’ve never read anything by her. Having now read Terrific Mother, I can definitely see why she gets praised - this is a gem of a story! A woman accidentally kills a baby at a picnic, falls into a deep depression, hastily gets married, and sets off for a month-long academic retreat in Italy where she falls in love with a female masseuse - what a year for anyone to go For years I’ve heard the likes of Nick Hornby and David Sedaris gush over Lorrie Moore but, for no real reason beyond lethargy, I’ve never read anything by her. Having now read Terrific Mother, I can definitely see why she gets praised - this is a gem of a story! A woman accidentally kills a baby at a picnic, falls into a deep depression, hastily gets married, and sets off for a month-long academic retreat in Italy where she falls in love with a female masseuse - what a year for anyone to go through! I liked how quickly Moore dealt with the baby’s death right from the start. Some literary writers may dwell on a meaningful event for much too long, drowning the moment in self-indulgent, obfuscating prose for page after page; here it’s over in two long paragraphs. Which I think is a realistic and laudable approach to take - a lot of life’s defining moments happen very fast but the ripples of these moments continue to echo through time and memory. And that’s the case here because, though it’s rarely mentioned again after, the baby’s death hangs over the idyllic Italian break and you can sense it still haunts our protagonist Adrienne. All of which makes the story sound like a grim read but surprisingly it’s anything but! Moore’s dialogue is very loose, silly and amusing and the characters’ interactions are very playful. That balance between artistic prose and serious subject matter and light, almost jolly behaviour and tone impressed me the most. One of the lines about Adrienne’s husband Martin actually made me laugh: “Poor godless, raised-an-atheist-in-Ohio Martin. ‘On Christmas,’ he’d said to her once, ‘we used to go down to the Science Store and worship the Bunsen burners.’”It’s a testament to Moore’s talent that very little happens in the story but I was never too bored with it. And yet, if there’s one thing that keeps me from giving this one a perfect score, it’s that not enough did happen. The dinner scenes and massage sessions became a bit repetitive after a spell. Still, Terrific Mother is, well, terrific, and if you’re like me and haven’t tried Lorrie Moore but always meant to, this is as good a starting place as any to dip your toes into!
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  • Lotte
    January 1, 1970
    The first page packs a punch. The rest of the story feels like it just kind of meanders along. It's expertly written and the story's aimlessness mirrors the main character's inner turmoil really well, but makes for a bit of a disappointing reading experience overall.
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  • Melki
    January 1, 1970
    Even though I knew it was coming, the "accident" that starts Adrienne's downward spiral still knocked me for a loop, and made me gasp aloud. How does one resume one's life after such a horrific tragedy? And yet . . . life goes on, and Moore presents an interesting look at one woman's existence in the aftermath.From Birds of America
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  • nicky
    January 1, 1970
    A strange book with a strange main character that reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant strangely. I am not sure who was strange though - was it she, were it all the others? I might have to re read this one because i’m not quite sure i got it, so to speak.
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  • Marcus Hobson
    January 1, 1970
    This is a great short story by Lorrie Moore in the Faber Stories series. I haven’t read anything by Lorrie Moore since then mid-90s, when I read Who Will Run The Frog Hospital?. This story was first published in 1998 in the collection ‘Birds of America’.This worked for me as a great story, because I loved the humour. Not that you would expect much humour after reading the first two pages, when thirty-five-year-old Adrienne has become a nervous holder of babies and although she is told she would This is a great short story by Lorrie Moore in the Faber Stories series. I haven’t read anything by Lorrie Moore since then mid-90s, when I read Who Will Run The Frog Hospital?. This story was first published in 1998 in the collection ‘Birds of America’.This worked for me as a great story, because I loved the humour. Not that you would expect much humour after reading the first two pages, when thirty-five-year-old Adrienne has become a nervous holder of babies and although she is told she would make a great mother, she drops this particular baby which hits its head and dies. She retreats to her attic for seven months, and most of her vanishing friends think she may never emerge.Move forwards months or years, and Martin, the boyfriend who became her only friend, is now her husband. He is beautifully described thus: ‘He was divorced and worked as a research economist, though he looked more like a Scottish lumberjack – greying hair, red-flecked beard, a favorite flannel shirt in green and gold.’ and ‘He was a practical man. He often referred to the annual departmental cocktail party as “Standing Around Getting Paid.”’Martin is to attend a conference in Italy for scholars and academics. Adrienne can attend as a spouse and use the studios provided for painting or pottery. Here the humour begins. Every evening the residents move around the dining table, sitting next to different people, listening to their talk about frightful subjects. One has written six books on Chaucer. As Adrienne says later, ‘But six books on Chaucer? Why not, say, a Cat Stevens book?’ The spouses sometimes gather to discuss their own lives, when this wonderful exchange takes place:“You were married before?”“Oh, yes.” She sighed. “I had one of those rehearsal marriages, you know, where you’re a feminist and train a guy, then some other feminist comes along and gets the guy.”Adrienne learns of a masseuse in the village down the hill and finds herself strangely relaxed and unbuttoned by Ilke for Minnesota. It leads her to many revelations and to many wonderful phrases in the story like: ‘Her rage flapped awkwardly away like a duck.’
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  • Bear Reads Books
    January 1, 1970
    My first book in the Faber series, and was a dark and brooding treat about a woman trying to return to normal after a tragedy. Her isolation, when everyone is so understanding and present, felt very real.
  • Nashwa
    January 1, 1970
    The premise was a lot more interesting but I still enjoyed the novella!
  • Rishita
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating: 3.5
  • Victoria Larroque
    January 1, 1970
    Not a lot happens in this story. Except for the tragedy between pages 1 and 2. Which was horrifying and I wish it wasn’t spoiled in the blurb. Other than that, it’s just a lot of fancy dinners and massages. I loved seeing Adrienne’s journey as she dealt with repressed feelings and came more into herself. The writing was also beautiful and at times hilarious! Lorrie Moore is a GEM! “She had bonded in a state of emergency, like an infant bird. But perhaps it would be soothing, this marriage. Not a lot happens in this story. Except for the tragedy between pages 1 and 2. Which was horrifying and I wish it wasn’t spoiled in the blurb. Other than that, it’s just a lot of fancy dinners and massages. I loved seeing Adrienne’s journey as she dealt with repressed feelings and came more into herself. The writing was also beautiful and at times hilarious! Lorrie Moore is a GEM! “She had bonded in a state of emergency, like an infant bird. But perhaps it would be soothing, this marriage. Perhaps it would be like a nice warm bath. A nice warm bath in a tub flying off the roof.”
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  • Mia
    January 1, 1970
    I get loads of messages asking how I find time to read with the small people - I don’t really have an answer. I will ignore a lot of things, people, and responsibilities to read!It took me ages to get back into reading after I had Fox, however. And for me short stories REALLY helped that.This was recommended by Pandora Sykes on the most recent High Low podcast and it’s really great.‘Adrienne is living in a puritanical age, when the best compliment a childless woman can get us: ‘you’d make a I get loads of messages asking how I find time to read with the small people - I don’t really have an answer. I will ignore a lot of things, people, and responsibilities to read!It took me ages to get back into reading after I had Fox, however. And for me short stories REALLY helped that.This was recommended by Pandora Sykes on the most recent High Low podcast and it’s really great.‘Adrienne is living in a puritanical age, when the best compliment a childless woman can get us: ‘you’d make a terrific mother.’ That’s when she goes to her friends’ Labor Day picnic and accidentally kills their baby.’Pretty intense stuff, clearly.However Lorrie Moore keeps the scene of the accident to one paragraph, it’s not grotesque or gratuitous.The joy of short stories is they can often feel like they have minimal storyline, because there isn’t time, instead the characters are the most important. This is such a deep dive in to Adrienne’s world and mind after the accident.Her relationship with her new husband (who she married to go on a retreat in Italy as a spouse), her experiences with a masseuse, and her disgust as the scholars she sits with each night at dinner is beautiful.Please read more short stories, most book shops have piles of them on the counter perfect for impulse purchasing - if they’re crap, you’ve not wasted days of your life, if they’re great, it’s wonderful!
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  • Simon Howard
    January 1, 1970
    A short novella in which 30-something women is caught up in a simple accident which results in the death of her friend's baby. This causes her to spiral into a deep depression, at the nadir of which she decides to marry an academic. She's whisked off to Italy as a spouse on a academic retreat, and falls for her American masseuse.I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. Despite the heavy subject matter, especially at the start, its written with an oddly true-to-life lightness and a certain sense of A short novella in which 30-something women is caught up in a simple accident which results in the death of her friend's baby. This causes her to spiral into a deep depression, at the nadir of which she decides to marry an academic. She's whisked off to Italy as a spouse on a academic retreat, and falls for her American masseuse.I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. Despite the heavy subject matter, especially at the start, its written with an oddly true-to-life lightness and a certain sense of wit. It is 76 small-ish widely spaced pages long, very easily read in a single sitting, and that feels like exactly the right length for the story. Moore packs in a surprising amount of plot and interesting observations into those 76 pages - and leaves the reader with a few things to ponder.
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  • Jasmine Alifa
    January 1, 1970
    One of my strangest reads. Compelled by the opening conflict - the protagonist accidentally drops her friend’s baby and kills it, and she hides from the world ever since. By then I assumed the whole story revolves around how she copes with the trauma, yet the journey‘s definitely something else. Something around thinking how marriage could possibly save her (re: her beau is her only patron after the tragedy), agreeing to go to an academic retreat and ended up falling in love with a female One of my strangest reads. Compelled by the opening conflict - the protagonist accidentally drops her friend’s baby and kills it, and she hides from the world ever since. By then I assumed the whole story revolves around how she copes with the trauma, yet the journey‘s definitely something else. Something around thinking how marriage could possibly save her (re: her beau is her only patron after the tragedy), agreeing to go to an academic retreat and ended up falling in love with a female masseuse just bcs she heals her. Don’t get it? Me neither. Thinking of another round of midnight read.
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  • Neil Fulwood
    January 1, 1970
    Moore’s novella, re-issued as a slim standalone volume in the Faber Stories range, is a bitingly accurate distillation of millennial angst, alternately hilarious, horrifying, heart-breaking and angry. The first scene is guaranteed to dynamite the reader out of any last vestige of complacency or comfort zone, while what follows and the fact that the reader goes willingly along for the journey and is so satisfactorily entertained by it, is a testament to the novelist’s art.
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  • Helen
    January 1, 1970
    Short StoryI haven't read anything by Lorrie Moore for a long time, although I'd still list her as one of my favourite authors; I used to reread Anagrams and Like Life regularly. And now I remember why - she has such a distinct voice, such a wonderful turn of phrase. Sad, poignant, tragic, yet funny, witty, wry. I'm going to download the books I've missed immediately and look forward to catching up with an old friend.
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  • R
    January 1, 1970
    “It seemed to her that everything she had ever needed to know in her life she had known at one time or another, but that she just hadn’t known all those things at once...she had had to leave and forget one in order to get to another.”Witty and sharp, with some memorable descriptive writing (“air shaping their flowery throats into a park of singing”; “creamy incisors curved as cashews”).
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  • Elspeth
    January 1, 1970
    Part of the Faber Stories shorts range for their 90th anniversary this is a beautiful pocket book. It surrounds coping with an individual and awful life event and I think beautifully tells isolation but also support. It made me want to escape to Italy but also checks itself with some comments on creative snobbery. Really enjoyable and odd.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    The opening is stunning - sudden, violently shocking, expertly written. The rest fails to live up to it, although I do like the premise, i.e. exploring not just the possibility of life continuing after such an event but also _how_ the life continues. How humour is possible, and boredom, and anger, and love - or something along the lines of love.
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  • Esther
    January 1, 1970
    One of those delicious series publishers do and I am a complete sucker for: a slim beautifully designed short story book that slips easily into a jacket pocket. Faber have brought out a few this year. This was so odd and wonderful.
  • Sarah Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting study of guilt and grief and navigating love in that space. Mainly set in a kind if liminal space in Italy with lovely expressions of the body and trauma experienced and exorcised through massage
  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    Short, funny, beautiful.
  • Estrella Alonso
    January 1, 1970
    I was expecting more. I thought she would describe how she kills the baby - I came to this for inspiration for my play
  • Charlie Coombe
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best short stories I've read in a long time. Laugh out loud funny and also achingly beautiful and evocative. I'll be buying this for everyone I know as a gift.
  • Carrie Blythe
    January 1, 1970
    3.75 stars
  • Kate Wyver
    January 1, 1970
    I liked the first two pages best
  • Elaine
    January 1, 1970
    An impressive breadth of compelling story telling in such a short amount of words. I adore this dedication to the form, and am eagerly seeking more of Moore’s words.
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    The synopsis of this 1998 story opens with the news that the central character will accidentally kill a neighbor's baby at a holiday picnic. Indeed, this happens within the first two pages. Though of course no one quite blames her, this unfortunate woman retreats into herself, feeling unfit for "normal" life in the aftermath. This is essentially what drew me to the story.Much to my disappointment, the scene of the accident, though well-crafted, is brief and then almost forgotten; the woman's The synopsis of this 1998 story opens with the news that the central character will accidentally kill a neighbor's baby at a holiday picnic. Indeed, this happens within the first two pages. Though of course no one quite blames her, this unfortunate woman retreats into herself, feeling unfit for "normal" life in the aftermath. This is essentially what drew me to the story.Much to my disappointment, the scene of the accident, though well-crafted, is brief and then almost forgotten; the woman's seven months of self-imposed house-arrest pass in only a few sentences. The bulk of the story instead takes place at an artists' retreat in Italy. The woman's attempts to come to grips with what has happened include only two or three mentions of the baby, focusing mainly on her divine massages at a local shop and her conversations with the other artists. This journey to self-acceptance felt so cold to me because it seemed that Moore had left the inciting horror of the situation entirely up to the reader's imagination and instead skipped ahead to moments near the end of the grieving process that felt a bit unearned, with a forced amount of whimsy.Essentially I felt that it wasn't the story I had expected to read based on the synopsis, which was understandably short to match the story. But there are certainly beautiful and humorous moments here, and I'm sure I would have enjoyed this more if I hadn't made assumptions beforehand."Normal life is no longer possible for me. I've stepped off all the normal paths and am living in the bushes. I'm a bushwoman now. I don't feel like I can have the normal things."
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  • Tessie Riggs
    January 1, 1970
    Sharp and interesting - wastes no time getting to the point...though after the point everything's a little aimless.
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