See What Can Be Done: Essays, Criticism, and Commentary

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For over thirty years, writer Loorie Moore has left an indelible mark on the American literary landscape. With See What Can Be Done, Moore adds a collection of essays, criticism, and commentary to her already lengthy list of publications.

The book is weighty both in content and in size. At 407 pages, it is not the kind of text you read cover to cover in one sitting; rather, it is the kind of book you devour slowly, each piece within it a small treat to be savored and considered.

Covering television shows like Girls, The Wire, and Making a Murderer, Moore brings her trained eye to the pop culture world in ways that reveal that there’s more to the subject matter than may meet the eye. In the case of her essay on The Wire, she gets at not only the show’s goals and aims but how it achieves them. She also discusses the way writers and actors wove famous Baltimoreans into the storylines and the people who at times played themselves. She discusses the importance of a show that isn’t just about the city in which it is set but also about the issues within cities at large and how television is a vehicle that can make those issues real to people far beyond the boundaries of the cities themselves.

There are, of course, a number of pieces devoted to literary works, including Margaret Atwood’s Robber Bride and Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, to name a few. But the pieces I found most compelling are the profiles on individuals, particularly the ones on Miranda July from 2014 and on Barack Obama from 2009. When Moore writes about Miranda July—a writer whose work I have read and whose films I have seen—I feel I am seeing July for the first time. When viewed through the eyes of Moore, July becomes something much more than a quirky artist, she becomes an icon. And in the case of Moore’s 2009 profile on Obama, I was reminded that the 44th president was a writer before he was commander in chief, and a good one at that.

Ultimately, that is the gift of Moore’s book See What Can Be Done. With each essay, she reveals things we might not have seen ourselves but that she knows, instinctively, we will value.


Reviewed By:

Author Lorrie Moore
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 432 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2018-Apr-03
ISBN 9781524732486
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue June 2018
Category Reference
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