Cover Image: I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home

I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home

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I am homeless if this is not my home by Lorrie Moore wasn’t my cup of tea unfortunately. Sometimes you start a book and right away know it’s not your vibe. This was the case with this book. I found the language and wording confusing. I stopped after the first couple of chapters. I appreciate NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This novel will appeal to a significant subset of readers but it felt like walking through dense thickets of overgrowth without being able to see the shape of the journey. Brilliant, but not for me.
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This is such a weird book. I often like weird in my books and I'm often okay with a meandering, non-linear plot but I'm not sure who the audience is for a book like this.

I was first introduced to Lorrie Moore in a fiction class in university when we read her short story, People Like That Are the Only People Here. It's a story I've thought about countless times since then. And it's a story that I found painfully true in several ways when I had my own baby in the hospital NICU. I've since read more short stories from Moore and a collection of her book reviews. As a short story writer, Moore excels. In the longer format of a novel, I'm not quite sure.

There are two parts to this novel. There are letters from an unnamed women to her sister. This woman keeps a boarding house in an era shortly after the American Civil War (I think; I'm entirely uninterested and ignorant about the US Civil War and so I know there was a lot of context here that I missed out on. That's my own fault and I don't blame Moore for it but she does write with an assumption that her reader will have familiarity with this American context and I just don't.) The letter writer slowly reveals more and more about a certain guest she had and what happened between them.

In the present day, Finn is a teacher visiting his brother in hospice when he gets word that his ex-girlfriend, Lily, has died in a suicide attempt. Their relationship was fraught and complicated and this was not her first attempt. Having missed the funeral, he returns to where she was buried and finds her re-animated corpse waiting for him. They then proceed to go on a road trip together.

I told you it was weird.

The main focus of the novel turns out to be the relationship between Finn and Lily and the majority of the time on the page is spent on their trip together, Lily's physical body quickly decomposing as they go. But this focus isn't immediately clear because we have these inserts of the Reconstruction Era letter writer and the first time we meet Finn he is spending time with his dying brother. Whether or not he makes the right choice to leave his brother and chase after Lily is one question and one that could be interesting to delve into. But the book doesn't seem interested in exploring that and we never really go back to the brother or re-focus on that relationship which initally seems so important to Finn.

The connection between Finn and the letter-writer does eventually become clear but it's so tenuous and...unimportant. Why bother putting them together? You might as well write a story about me and someone else who also shops at the same grocery store I do. I mean, we're connected sure, but not in any meaningful way.

Like I said, a lot of the page is devoted to Finn and Lily on this road trip and they have a lot of banter together and circling discussions around their relationship and who they are. Some readers, I think, will love this. They are quirky characters who seem very aware of being quirky. I did not love this and found myself wanting to hurry on to figure out how Finn was connected to the letter-writer or for him to return to his brother, with whom he seemed to have a deeper and healthier connection. And, as I mentioned, neither of those had a satisfying conclusion for me.

In the end, I have liked Moore's writing enough in the past to not give up on her entirely. I'll happily read more short stories from her but I might be a bit more hesitant with her next novel.
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Hmmmmm it’s taken me awhile to write a review on this book, while it was written with great prose I’m not 100 percent sure I fully got the deep meaning behind some of the scenes. Some of the scenes painted pictures in my mind I’m not sure I wanted to see. To be so in love with someone who does not have the ability to sustain a healthy love , The addiction to holding on that puts our lives on hold and then saying goodbye and then hello to a new life moving forward. 
The author writes words in a wonderful descriptive way 

I voluntarily received a free copy from NetGalley and all opinions are my own
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This book is the journey of Finn with his brother and the woman he loves, while alternating to letters a woman writes to her sister half a century and more before Finn's journey. 

There is a lot of dialog between the characters which resembles the ramblings of real life discussions that includes key and mundane elements.

Ghostly sights and walking corpse added to murder and sickness makes this book unique in its perspective.
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Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book was not for me. I understand that this is a story about love, life, death. But, it missed the mark for me. Author Lorrie Moore is clearly an excellent author and she masterminded the story, but it was lacking in interest for me.
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I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore is a masterful blend of humor, wit, and emotion. The novel weaves together different narratives, from a teacher visiting his dying brother in the Bronx to a stolen journal from the nineteenth century and the enigmatic presence of a therapy clown and an assassin presumed to be dead. With her signature wordplay and sharp humor, Lorrie Moore creates a captivating and poetic exploration of love, rebirth, and the complexities of life.

Moore's writing is distinct and magnetic, drawing readers into the lives of her characters with ease. The novel delves into themes of love, loss, and the power of storytelling. As the characters navigate through their experiences, the story questions the veracity of the stories we have been told, adding layers of intrigue and depth to the narrative.

One of the highlights of the book is Moore's ability to infuse humor into poignant moments, creating a balance that keeps readers engaged and emotionally invested. The characters are richly developed, and their relationships are explored with honesty and depth, making them feel real and relatable.

I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home is a compelling and thought-provoking novel that invites readers to reflect on the human experience. Lorrie Moore's talent for storytelling shines through, and her inventive narrative style adds an element of theatricality to the novel. For those seeking a unique and soul-stirring read, this book is an excellent choice.
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I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home did not resemble the summaries provided, but maybe that was me and my expectations.  It's quite possible that I just don't know the work of author Lorrie Moore well enough to fully appreciate this novel. 

I requested this book because it deals with the issues I'm dealing with in my life - the death of a loved one, grief, the haunting feeling they're with you. In the case of this novel, our main protagonist is dealing with the imminent death of his brother, and the sudden (but not totally) unexpected death of the great love of his life, who had left him for another man.  His experiences are interspersed with the journal entries of a woman in the Civil War-era who is writing confessional letters to her dead sister.

Lorrie Moore is a beautiful writer.  The way she writes about that period when you're waiting for someone to die, or the anticipatory grief you feel is absolutely exquisite and so real.  There were so many moments, when I went back to a paragraph or a phrase and just savoured the way Moore so skillfully used language to capture an emotion or a scene or place.  

That's why I'm really sad to say I was disappointed in the book because the writing and the talent is so wonderful!  The book is engagingly frustrating in that you want to find out what happens, although I don't think you ever do. I'm also not sure how (or if) the two narratives tie together.  They don't seem to add anything to one another except for a random coincidence.  I would have been happy to have received just a little more clarity about either narrative. In fact, I'd read a book about the Civil War woman.  She was so intriguing!  Bu at least there is some resolution and even redemption at the end.

I think my biggest issue is the way the book was pitched to me.  Here's my analogy.  I went to a restaurant and I ordered the salmon, but they gave me chicken.  The chicken was good but I was still expecting the salmon and had really wanted the salmon.  Hence the chicken was very disappointing.  If the restaurant had just explained that I was getting chicken instead, I might not have been so confused.  

I'm not sure the problem is with the book, so much as how it's being promoted.  

But thank you Net Galley.  It did make me think and I mentioned to a few friends, so it's not all bad.
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I kept trying to pick up and read the book.  But unfortunately it was just not catching my interest. I was unable to get thru the first few chapters and gave up trying to finish it.
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This book was not at all what I was expecting. And, unfortunately, not in a good way.

There's a strong opening, set during the Civil war. A boarding house proprietress is writing a vivid, gossipy letter to her sister, telling her about a handsome but questionable guest who persistently flirts with her. It's really well written, really makes the letter writer (Elizabeth) and her surroundings come to life. So much so that it's almost disappointing to be moved to the next section.

That next section takes us to 2016, and a different set of siblings. Finn, a suspended high school teacher, is visiting his dying brother Max in a New York City hospice. Despite Max's situation, he still feels sorry for his younger brother -- and so do we. Max has been dumped by suicidal therapy clown girlfriend Lily, and although it's been a year he's still mourning the relationship. The brothers bonding over World Series baseball feels like a really intimate little character detail and makes for realistic dialogue.

After this, things really went down hill for me. <spoiler> Finn is called away from Max's death bed almost immediately after arriving in New York, because ex-girlfriend Lily is in crisis. That crisis? She's dead. But not thoroughly dead, in novelistic terms, as her undead presence (decomposing zombie rather than ghostly specter) accompanies Finn on a road trip. The relationship between alive Finn and dead Lily is no more relatable or appealing than that between then when she was alive, so spending so much time with them is less than engaging. The only bright spot is the continued flashback letters of Elizabeth, our Civil War boarding house proprietress, as the two plot lines become linked. </spoiler>

As always with Lorrie Moore, the dialogue is intimate and witty, and the language is lovely. But the weirdness of the horror elements, and sheer unlikability of many of the main characters made this a difficult read for me.
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Two stories that don’t meet for a long while. Haunting, ghosts, grief, sadness, what’s real and what isn’t? 

I found this short (200 page) book tiresome and long. The writing was beautiful at times, poetic, playful and digging of deep emotions. But it did not reach what I needed from such a story, too sad, too stricken, and although there was much reference to Hope, I felt none, I was sad for the characters because their lives seemed void of a brighter 'future". 

This book was not for me, and not recommended if you are dealing with any kind of personal issue. It will wring you and not necessarily offer any inspiration.

I do appreciate being introduced to a new author, in reading some rave reviews, I appear to be the exception here in my thoughts.

Thank you to #NetGalley and #PenguinRandomHouseCanada for this early copy in exchange for my opinion.
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This went in a completely different direction than I was expecting.. To be fair, the synopsis does say things like "haunted" and "both presumed dead, but perhaps not dead at all." I was thinking in a more figurative way than literal, so when what I think was a zombie?? became involved in the story, I was surprised. This wasn't zombie-ish though, a character just happens to be undead, so it wasn't distracting and weirdly didn't feel out of place.

The split between the 19th and the 21st century stories definitely felt uneven, with a lot more time being devoted to the story set in modern day. Kind of made it feel like the 19th century story didn't add much overall, and I wish that wasn't the case. It was an interesting storyline that I would have liked to see more of.
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I heard such great things about Lorrie Moore and her wordplay by a colleague, that I just had to pick this book up and see her masterclass of writing come to life on every page. I will say this, I was sold on this strange tale of how we deal with grief almost immediately. The beauty hidden within how odd the characters story is, might be unmatched by any other book I read.

Lets start with what people are not going to like, shall we. People are not going to like that it may take a while to figure out what the connection is between the two intertwining stories, but when you do find out what binds them together, it totally makes sense for the book.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where we want action right away, we want precise language, and to know the point because everybody thinks their time is precious. 

Now for me, this book is excellent. The authors choice of words and outstanding wordplay struck a massive chord with me. They sell this as a ghost story, but I tend to like to think of it more as a grief story. In between the strange story, were characters that were beautifully created that made feel like they were almost human. From a grief stricken, down on his luck conspiracy theorist, to an 18th and 19th century sisterhood, they all had things in common, grief.

I absolutely loved this book for showing you that not everyone grieves the same way and that it can be messy, raw, and dark. The sense of humour that Lorrie Moore portrays with her words is incredible, and has now sold me to go out and pick up another one of her books. As you can see I enjoyed hearing Knoxville Tennessee being described as an old crickety bat and sad spaghetti so much, that I am recommending everyone to read the book. Ultimately, this is a book that my uncle would have loved if he was still with us and made me often think of him. I just hope I understood what the writer was trying to convey, that there is life after death and if there isn't, then may the past continue to haunt you until yours.

Happy Reading!

Chris Humphrey
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I am not going to recount the 'plot' of this book. In fact, I'd highly suggest going 'Loorie Moore, if I remember correctly, she's pretty good.' and then just start reading, This novel is a ride that is best experienced without a map.

It will explain to you things you didn't know you needed to understand.
It will renew your love of capital L Literature, if you've lost that at all.
You will laugh, think, re-read sections, read sections aloud to anyone around you. 
It's by far one of the best books I have read in years.
It is one of those, 'How did she do that?' books that you will return to again and again.

I am going to end this review here and open I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home again (by the way, thank you @netgalley for the review copy), and start all over again. Yes, it's that good.
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Lorrie Moore's prose, at times, is stunning. Her descriptions can be flowing and eloquent, carrying the reader along even when the sensibility of the text is lost.  In this novel, which starts with a departure for her, using long ago letters from one sister to another, the point of the changing narrations is hard to grasp, both in the extreme variation of style and the content of the tales.  The juxtaposition of the two narrations - moving without demarcation from one to another - seemed to hint at connection, but I could not quite impose one on them.  

Finn's tale reminded me of Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo, a study of grief and death, edged with humour - though Moore's take on these topics is quite different from Saunders'.  She displays once again her quick witted observations and comparisons of contemporary culture, although, as usual, some are missed unless one is familiar with the specific music or place she is referencing.  There was a bit of straining to be humorous at times, which makes the reader aware of the writer rather than the narrator.
Nonetheless, this was a fascinating exploration of our relationship to death, and the manifestations of grief, including the choices we have to make in this life.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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In "I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home," Lorrie Moore presents readers with beautiful prose and delivers some profound moments. However, the majority of the narrative felt like an ongoing stream of words, leaving me longing for something more. With only roughly 200 pages in length, I had a difficult time finishing it. 

The book opens with a letter from Elizabeth to her sister. While this initial section captures attention and curiosity, the subsequent parts focus on Finn's visits to his dying brother, Max, and his “encounters” with his deceased partner. I felt like these segments were saturated with regret and hopelessness and explored themes of grief and dying with a twist of dark humour. 

Although the conversations portrayed in the book have an authentic quality, they ultimately failed to engage me. The drawn-out nature of the story contributed to my waning interest, as I continually anticipated a significant turning point.

While it is possible that I may have overlooked some deeper meaning within the text (due to my lack of interest), my overall experience with "I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home” suggests that Lorrie Moore's writing style may not resonate with me personally. As this was my first Moore book, I have no other experience. Regrettably, the book did not succeed in capturing and maintaining my interest. 

Publish day: June 20/ 23

Thank you to NetGalley & Penguin Random House for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
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I am Homeless if this is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore is my 5th book read by this author. It took me a little while to get into the hazy quality of it but once I was on the road trip with Finn and his ex Lily, I found myself haunted by the beautiful imagery and thoughtful ideas. 

This is a different kind of novel about dying and grief than is often portrayed and while the death of one of the characters was quite traumatic and possibly triggering for some, there was beauty portrayed in death at the same time. Who is death for, the deceased or the living? This and several other theories are put forth. 

This is a difficult book to describe but think of it as a road trip with a ghost in the making. 

Thank you to @penguinrandomca and @netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinions. I am Homeless if this is Not My home comes out June 20, 2023.
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I couldn't figure this book out. Because we begin with Elizabeth and her letter to her sister, I thought she was the main character. When is switches to Finn's point of view, I kept trying to figure out what he had to do with Elizabeth. Elizabeth's story is set just after the civil war ended, and Finn's is modern day. I kept expecting there to be some kind of reference back to that story, a filling in of the gap. And there wasn't. It kept dragging me out of the story.

By half way, I figured I'd gotten it wrong and this wasn't a novel, but short stories with death as a theme (as death wasn't so much the main character in the novel as talked around and about). But then we switch back to Elizabeth. So not short stories then.

You finally do find out the "connection" between Finn and Elizabeth and it isn't so much a connection as happenstance. I would much rather have started with Finn and his story as he is in reality the main character. The letters could have come in later once they actually tie into Finn's story.

I did really enjoy the philosophical aspects of death and dying, love and connection, but would have liked to feel more connected to Finn from the beginning.
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Thank you, NetGalley, for the digital ARC!

What do you say to the dying? What would you say to the dead?

I am homeless if this is not my home is a deeply metaphorical character-driven novel written in beautiful prose about what it means to be alive, and what it means to live on. It's about a search for atonement that relies on magic realism and fragments.

This is not what I was expecting at all, and being more of a plot reader myself, I found I struggled a few times to make sense of everything that was being thrown at me. In order to enjoy this novel, I think the reader has to let go of their will to understand everything - which fits the purpose of the book.

I saw this more as a narrative poem than as a work of fiction. It was one of the most well-written piece I have read all year!
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Delighted to include this title in the June edition of Novel Encounters, my regular column highlighting the month’s most anticipated fiction for the Books section of Zoomer, Canada’s national culture magazine. (see column and mini-review at link)
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