Picks and Pans Review: Self-Help

updated 04/29/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/29/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Lorrie Moore

Whether or not women know how to love—or be loved—any better than men, they probably write about the subject better and certainly write about it more often. This collection of short stories includes a number of trenchant, funny tales of desperately passionate, un-and semi-requited love. They alone would make this first book worthwhile. But Moore, 28, a University of Wisconsin English instructor, is much more than just another chronicler of the chronically out-of-sync relations between American men and women. She writes, often in the imperative, with urgency and pace. ("Escape into books. When he asks what you're reading, hold it up without comment.") Her characters seem admirably determined not to be unhappy. And in "How To Be an Other Woman," she can write a bull's-eye paragraph like this: "Shave your legs in the bathroom sink. Philosophize: you are a mistress, part of a great hysterical you mean historical tradition. Wives are like cockroaches. They will survive you after a nuclear attack—they are tough and hardy and travel in packs—but right now they're not having any fun. And when you look in the bathroom mirror, you spot them scurrying, up out of reach behind you." Write something else, Ms. Moore, and please do it fast. (Knopf, $13.95)

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