See What Can Be Done by Lorrie Moore review – marvellously nuanced

This wide-ranging collection of reviews and cultural commentary is shrewd and worthy of preservation. Just don’t call it ‘enjoyable’…

Lorrie Moore explains, in her introduction, that her book’s title repeats the form of words used by Robert Silvers (1929-2017), editor of the New York Review of Books, along with books he hoped she might review. She was invariably able to see and do – and in unexpected ways, as this incisive, wide-ranging and enjoyable collection of reviews, autobiographical pieces and cultural commentary shows. “Enjoyable”, by the way, is a word on Moore’s adjectival hit list – banned, one presumes, for laziness or for being insufficiently explanatory (she does not explain).

She is an exacting writer but never a conceited one. She knows what it is to try and write fiction – or, rather, to succeed in writing it: her short stories are singular, witty and, at 61, her writing ...