‘Paper Losses’ by Lorrie Moore

Moore, Lorrie 2006

Paper Losses by Lorrie Moore, 2006

The magic trick:

Dropping little asides here and there about what happens later, after the events told in this story

Any story has a beginning and an end, creating a limited time frame. The author relates the events and emotions from Point A to Point B in time. Obviously, right?

Well, in “Paper Losses,” Moore does something pretty cool to extend the scope of the time frame. In a few instance throughout this story, Moore breaks from the plot to mention things that happened years later, well after the story’s main arc is completed.

For instance, she writes: Of course, later she would understand that all this meant that he was involved with another woman, but at the time, protecting her own vanity and sanity, she was working with two hypotheses only: brain tumor or space alien.

It is as if Moore is creating a mini-epilogue for the reader. She’s not going to go into detail about these future realizations. That’s another time, another story. But just the slightest mention allows the reader further insight into the characters and lives beyond the events of “Paper Losses.” And that’s quite a trick on Moore’s part.

The selection:

Back home in Beersboro, she unpacked the condoms and candles, her little love sack, completely unused, and threw it in the trash. What had she been thinking? Later, when she had learned to tell this story differently, as a story, she would construct a final lovemaking scene of sentimental vengeance that would contain the inviolable center of their love, the sweet animal safety of night after night, the still-beating tender heart of marriage.


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