‘Agnes of Iowa’ by Lorrie Moore

A story for April
 
I was a short story reader before I was a writer and the first writer I fell in love with was Lorrie Moore. Her wry, ironic, conversational voice. Those puns and quips! The way her characters stumble through life. Her stories made me want to write my own, about the ways people I knew lived their lives.
 
‘Agnes of Iowa’ is about a quiet teacher who once lived in New York and now is in the Midwest. Her husband (“he smelled sweet, of soap and minty teeth, like a child”) is a little disappointing, so her sudden attraction to a visiting poet one April shocks and delights her. That month is “cool and humid. Bulbs cracked and sprouted, shot up their green periscopes.” There’s a lovely sense of something shifting in her life, when she would “wait for the moment, then seize it.”

From Birds of America, New York: Alfred Knopf, 1988. Available to read online on the Granta website

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