Reader’s Guide: Bark by Lorrie Moore
1. What is the metaphor of the title? How do the epigraphs help to set it up? 2. The stories share several themes, among them aging and the passage of time, parents and children, divorce and separation. What would you say is the primary theme of the collection? 3. Several of the story titles have multiple meanings. How does Moore’s wordplay keep the reader guessing? 4. The dialogue in Moore’s stories is often funny. Would you call the stories themselves humorous? 5. Real-life current events cast shadows over several of the stories. How does Moore use them to shape a deeper meaning? 6. In “Debarking,” when Zora tells Ira, “Every family is a family of alligators,” (p. 15), how does this foreshadow what’s to come? 7. Ira reads a poem in Bekka’s journal: “Time moving. / Time standing still. / What is the difference? / Time standing still is the difference” (p. 31). He has no idea what it means, but he knows that it’s awesome. What do you think the poem means? 8. Why do you think Moore titled the story following “Debarking” “The Juniper Tree”? 9. This second story has a dreamlike quality. Do you think Moore expects the reader to accept it as realistic? 10. In “Paper Losses,” Kit asserts: “A woman had to choose her own particular unhappiness carefully. That was the only happiness in life: to choose the best unhappiness” (p. 68). What do you think of this notion? 11. What point is Moore making in “Foes”?