Lauren Groff is the author of the novels The Monsters of Templeton (2008), Arcadia (2012), and Fates and Furies (2015), and of the story collections Delicate Edible Birds (2009) and Florida (2018). Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and Harper’s. (February 2020)
The New York Review is publishing dispatches from around the world documenting the coronavirus outbreak. Read the full series, and listen to writers reading their contributions, at nybooks.com/pandemic. —The Editors OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, March 17—By Thursday afternoon, downtown San Francisco, already void of tourists, had turned ghostlier still.
Dispatches on the coronavirus outbreak from Madeleine Schwartz in Brooklyn, Anne Enright in Dublin, Joshua Hunt in Busan, Anna Badkhen in Lalibela, Lauren Groff in Gainesville, Christopher Robbins in New York, Elisa Gabbert in Denver, Ian Jack in London, Vanessa Barbara in São Paolo, Rachel Pearson in San Antonio, A.E. Stallings in Athens, Simon Callow in London, Mark Gevisser in Cape Town, Sarah Manguso in Los Angeles, Ruth Margalit in Tel Aviv, Miguel-Anxo Murado in Madrid, Tim Parks in Milan, Eduardo Halfon in Paris, Anastasia Edel in Oakland, and more.
When critics speak of Lorrie Moore’s voice, they tend to focus on her humor; it is such a dazzling gift that it can blind even a good reader to the endless other modes and varieties of mastery in her work. Moore’s jokes, puns, wordplay, and gimlet eye do build to create a comedic surface tension that’s unequaled in its range and sophistication. Her characters put their humor to a wide variety of uses: to try to smooth over awkwardness, to defang their terror, to stave off despair, to endear themselves to lovers they sense are drawing away, to armor themselves against the aggressions of others, to put up a brave front when it seems that everything around them is caving in, to gesture helplessly at the absurdity of the world.