#50 – Degrees of Nakedness, by Lisa Moore

I read Open several years ago, because I’d been hearing Lisa Moore’s name all over the place and wanted to see what the fuss was all about. I don’t recall if I was living in Waterloo or Sudbury at the time, but I do remember somebody accusing me of buying the book solely because the cover featured an attractive woman in a bikini. I also remember enjoying the book quite a bit, but not why, nor are the details of any of the stories clear. Degrees of Nakedness will probably elicit a similar reaction from me several years from now. I enjoyed the book, but there’s nothing about it that I would really call remarkable or particularly unique. Each of the stories seems told in the same detached, slightly sombre tone, and Moore’s prose is so relentlessly clean and straightforward that it’s difficult to feel much of anything for most of her characters, and I find it almost impossible to think of her writing in terms of style at all. She seems to rely quite heavily on “the telling detail”, but none of her details seem particularly telling. There are some memorable images in her stories, like the taxidermic museum in “Purgatory’s Wild Kingdom” (a story that I feel I’ve encountered somewhere before, though I couldn’t say where) and the photograph that opens the story “Haloes.” These images seem to be placed in the stories to function as emotional fulcra, balancing the tensions and conflicts of the story, but instead they feel disconnected. Not quite dead on the page, but not pulling the stories together the way they should, either. Even passages of extremely explicit sex (and there’s one long one and a few shorter) are flat. They lack erotic verve or a sense of shame or even a genuine, deliberate emptiness. They are simply there, and that’s not enough. I’ll probably try Alligator at some hypothetical future date, but certainly not with any real enthusiasm.

Degrees of Nakedness was my fifth selection for the Second Canadian Book Challenge. Next up is The Girls Who Saw Everything, by Sean Dixon.


Writer. Editor. Critic.

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