When you were six you thought “mistress” meant to put your shoes on the wrong feet. Now you are older and know it can mean many things, but essentially it means to put your shoes on the wrong feet.
I always forget how god damn dark Lorrie Moore is, tending instead to think of her a humourist. The theme that runs through this short story collection is relationships that are broken or about to break. Moore’s characters are self-aware enough to know what they’re doing isn’t helping, but not confident enough to change. A woman is confounded by the realisation she’s become someone’s mistress. A woman chooses euthanasia over chemotherapy and throws a party to tell her friends at which she thinks she sees her husband making plans to date someone after she’s gone. A woman steals from her work to compensate for her anxiety about her young son’s happiness and her husband’s former (possibly ongoing) infidelities. It occurs to me that Moore’s humour is what I remember because it’s less discomforting than her depiction of her characters’ flaws and failings, and their paralysis in the face of oncoming tragedy, which is as sharp as her sense of humour (but jeez!). That said, she is funny, and smart, and a dab hand at a pun, too.