Finn is full of presumptuous pronouncements about other people, the country, life, death, and many things in between. As a protagonist, he’s as annoying as he is depressingly, fallibly human. And, of course, that’s part of the appeal ... Moore’s trademark precision prose works throughout to move the story forward and ensure the reader is both laughing and crying—warning: this is a deeply emotional read ... This isn’t a zombie story—it’s a strange multi-layered ghost story.
Even in nineteenth-century garb, Moore’s style is unmistakable: assonant, adjectival, alliterative, witheringly aromantic, geopolitically attuned, at once lyrical and laid back ... For any writer, the elongated scene is a high-wire act; a gust of boredom can knock her, and by extension the reader, off balance. But the slowness here acts against boredom by extending our discomfort. Dying, Moore suggests, is an awkward, dragged-out thing ... Moore makes us wish for life—the life of the scene, and so the life of the book—to go on forever. Her figurative powers are astounding ... Loose ... To the extent that I Am Homeless is a novel of personal grief, then, it is also a novel of national grief.
Fluky, fitfully funny and folk-horror-adjacent ... I did sometimes think about how I’d rank it ... Moore is a consummate user of the English language; her moisture-wicking sentences confirm and reconfirm your sanity. So many of them you want to frame and hang. But when her books don’t work, they can seem especially futile ... In terms of the other fiction published so far this year, I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home is an easy A. In terms of Moore’s own high standards, it’s a C at best ... You settle into the tone of this story. Move over, Hilary Mantel. That’s how good the opener is. There’s a bit of Cormac McCarthy’s recent cosmic-circus high jinks. Then a different story comes along to replace it. It’s as if you are a child again, and someone has stolen your hot dog ... Moore stretches for deeper themes in this novel, and of course they’re there: It’s a book about loss, and about the patience and endurance it takes to treat the dying with respect, and about the shaggy and multiform varieties of love. But it’s more about the jokes.
Dense and heavy ... The plot is kind of beside the point ... maybe it’s that grief, which seeps from Moore’s pages here like wet ink, is always nonsensical to those outside it. Maybe I Am Homeless is not meant to be read as a novel, but as a death dream.
Moore's story invokes — and comically literalizes — the universal desire to have more time with a loved one who's died. You might be reluctant to go along on such a morbid — and very dusty — ride, but you'd be missing one of the most singular and affecting on-the-road stories in the American canon.
What verdict awaits the diaphanous ghost story that is I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home, with its curious, unravelling structure? Too odd, I suspect ... The voice that greets us is a shock ... Slapstick inevitably ensues, but most of the telling unfurls in a language of ravishment and wonder ... Just like Lily, the novel itself begins to come apart. As the pages turn, the story does not build or cohere. It degrades. Subplots and subsidiary characters fall away ... One might say of Lorrie Moore what she said of Updike—that she is our greatest writer without a great novel—but how tinny 'greatness' can feel when caught in the inhabiting, staining, possessing power of a work of such determined strangeness and pain. An almost violent kind of achievement: a writer knifing forward, slicing open a new terrain—slicing open conventional notions and obligations of narrative itself ... For all her preoccupation with language, Moore’s deeper interest has always been with structure, or, rather, with its limitations; you sense her impatience to break it open, to take inspiration for the shape of a story from music or sculpture ... Moore’s 'radiant turbulence' will always beckon. You have to stick around for the show.
Devoted readers of Lorrie Moore will find her unfailingly distinct style in the brief and deeply empathetic I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home ... Elegiac and funny ... The pith and wit one expects from Moore are here, along with the wordplay, the seemingly tangential reveries, and the bursts of wonder at the beauty of the quotidian ... Richly textured.
A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. I wouldn’t have it any other way ... I’m reading not for the tightness of the structure but for the acuity of the reverie. Moore is after something more mysterious than naturalism. She is operating in the territory of myth ... Moore’s fever dream of a world feel[s] so relentlessly real.
The trouble in this novel is that everyone is funny (or trying to be) all the time, unrelentingly, in exactly the same bewildered-ironic fashion. The smart-aleck patter, which can seem so clever and poignant in isolation, comes to feel like a factory setting with no off-switch, and it’s hard not to feel that Ms. Moore has neutralized much of the appealing strangeness of this book with an increased dependence on familiar stylistic tics.
Its very structure disorients ... I think Moore’s jokes are supposed to draw attention to themselves, certainly in this novel ... not an easy novel. It’s dense with allusion—perhaps one day it will come with footnotes—and its two parts don’t fit together neatly; you have to wiggle them, work them, and even then they don’t interlock. But life is like that, and death even more so ... Moore writes of the highway that leads Finn and Lily to their terminus. I hope I’m not making the novel sound discouraging. It’s not. Moore has made death elating, and that’s a pretty good trick.
Resists analysis. This is a novel made out of air, unstructured, unskeletoned. There’s a central storyline, sort of, but summarizing that doesn’t quite get at what the experience of reading this weird, funny, tender, and occasionally gross book is like ... Libby’s letters are gripping — Moore can really write a 19th-century pastiche! — but don’t expect the Booth stuff to become a mystery or the key to the plot. There isn’t a plot. This is the kind of book where not all that much happens, but all of it seems to matter ... Moore’s short stories frequently deal with death and illness and hospitals. The stories are shaggy, like this novel, but compact; the constraints of the medium grant them shape and form, as though Moore has poured her lovely sentences like water into the vessel of the short story. In I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home, she seems to have poured her sentences out onto the ground, where they spread and stretch and sink into the soil. This is a strange and beautiful book, and when you try to catch it in your hands, it dissolves.
One of [Moore's] many gifts is to hold the reader safely within the power of her intention — since that intention is frequently off-beat, that skill can be all the more effective and surprising in a novel ... You start this book thinking it’s going to go one way, then it goes another way, and yet another still ... What a peculiar gift of a novel. Its characters are full of longing that transcends even death: that longing suffuses the book with a strange suspense as the reader puts the characters’ mysterious desires up against her own.
Mournful ... This slender book is haunting and cursed ... Finn is a classic Moore character, clinging to witty lines about the wallpaper in a world so dark he can barely see the walls ... Moore is writing in a treacherous emotional realm here, and her story moves with no more predictability than a wraith ... For all the novel’s rumination on mourning, the plot’s physical motion is incessant ... Gothic...perplexing.
Moore excels in...[the] neurotic but intimate conversations that go nowhere, and the scenes in the hospice are viscerally done ... Moore shows that grief and ghosts can be written about persuasively, and wittily, without turning a novel into a horror story ... A triumph of tone and, ultimately, of the imagination. For Moore, death doesn’t necessarily mark the end of a story.
A meditative, irreverent treatise on life and death, a poignant and thought-provoking novel that lodges like a shard ... An evocative if slow beginning ... he magic is in watching the threads come together, the nimble structuring and authoritative style that permit the reader to imagine the unimaginable, blurring the line between our world and the next in an impressive feat of storytelling that leaves us wondering, in the case of death and grief, who ends up more hollowed out, the dead or those they leave behind ... A haunting tale.
I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home is Moore’s strongest work so far this century, and her most daring formal experiment since Anagrams ... Moore brings all her powers of language, comedy, and narrative to bear on the abject chaos of our days. She does not attempt to subdue or redeem the wreck of reality—a fool’s errand—but rather to craft a work of art that is true to the baleful circumstances that made it possible, even as its spiky, intricate brilliance offers us a respite from the howling idiocies that grind us down, day by precious fleeting day.
With her trademark wordplay and grammatical twists, Moore toggles between timestreams, divining the 'reality of the unseen' ... Like Cormac McCarthy in his last novels, she’s reflecting on the futility of literature in the face of oblivion, the act of writing itself a kind of bardo.
Bold, evocative ... Beyond the alluring cover is a poignantly dark manifestation of a macabre road trip that explores haunting memories of sibling connections and a childhood past, lost love, gut-wrenching guilt, lingering grief and the valiant effort to assuage it all ... Slim, fulfilling.
Doesn’t have the antic energy of Moore’s early novels, nor the combination of dismay and exuberance that we find in many of her short stories. The pacing is slow; the tone is muted, questioning, almost sincere ... Moore doesn’t seem quite at home in this mode. Encounters with the spiritual world are awkward rather than unnerving; plots intersect without clear meaning or effect ... There’s some lovely writing here...though it may be too lovely for what it describes ... The novel stagnates.
It is for her short stories...that readers adore Moore. Her patchy and dreamlike third novel, which is her first for 14 years, will not change that ... Overall...the novel fails to stick in the reader’s mind. There are entertaining exchanges... but the characters’ incessant wisecracking often gets in the way of deeper meanings instead of opening them up. There are pages of aimless dialogue and, at the end of one meandering conversation ... Contains enough glimmers of Moore’s greatness to sustain her admirers until she publishes another collection of stories. If you have never read her, do not start here.
The conversation between two brothers trying to make light of their predicaments while acknowledging implicitly the momentousness of their exchange is the high point of I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home. There is a gravity to every joke, a progress towards an understanding and revelation of love that avoids some of the staginess and the insistence on the comic rejoinder with which Moore often stylises her dialogue ... Moore leaves the nature and purpose of these sections enigmatic ... The second half of the novel is likely to try the patience of readers of a literary-realist disposition ... The metaphors lose subtlety...and the dialogue clowns and circles itself. Perhaps that’s the intent, the first section about impending grief, the second about its incoherent madness, but the conversation between these former lovers is unlikely to affect the reader nearly as much as that of the brothers ... It is tough to be held always to the magnificent achievements of one’s best work, and this novel does contain highpoints too, full of musical phrasing and keen insight revealed in unexpected images.
Sometimes a novel’s means are so strange, however compelling its final effect on the reader, that a straightforward account of it will be most helpful. I’ve read, or part-read, this novel three times now. On the first reading I gave up, shaking my head. On the second I got to the end, but thought it absurdly wilful, self-absorbed and idiosyncratic to the point of whimsy. The third reading – something, after all, must have drawn me back – exerted an appalling power, and I emerged shaken, troubled, but also consoled. Take your pick. This is a book that is going to divide people, and one that can look very different to the same reader in different lights ... Readers may be reminded of George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo, the 2017 Booker prize-winner about the behaviour of the dead. For me, Moore is more compelling. She is unfailingly honest about what the grotesque and impossible situation might involve, and, unlike Saunders, never slips into what the literature of consolation might prefer to relax into ... It’s the honesty and specificity about the impossible that gives this moving novel its power ... When a book reaches out and speaks to a reader so clearly, one can hardly do anything but recommend it in the highest terms.
A work of eccentric power, once more challenging the conventions of narrative fiction, and interrogating the many dimensions of grief ... Moore’s great talents as a writer include swerving so rapidly between humour and tragedy you feel you need a seatbelt. She is also exquisitely capable of making her readers feel uncomfortable about laughing but unable to stop. Hers is a violent kind of comedy, taking no prisoners ... Much of the storyline is effectively a vehicle for extended jokes about suffering and death, and for Finn and Lily to exercise their considerable wit ... That said, Moore has always made it clear that her interest is not in plot or structure. And despite its weaknesses this novel is so joyously transgressive they do not matter.
...a slender, surreal, beautifully written novel that explores the long afterlife of love, death and domestic devotion ... Moore is widely revered as a master of the short story...Her style is unmistakable, jam-packed with jokes, non sequiturs, alliteration and allusion ... Virtually every page has some similarly dazzling display of verbal pyrotechnics, but the relentlessness of Moore’s wordplay and erudition can also be wearying.
An unusual but surprisingly affecting story about life and death and the liminal space that separates them ... Moore’s ambitions in this brief novel are modest, even as the subjects she tackles are among the most profound facing human beings.
Moore’s sterling literary reputation is anchored most firmly to her short stories, but in her long-awaited fourth novel, her prose is just as breathtakingly crystalline, her humor wily and piquant. What’s surprising is her illumination of surpassingly strange and provocative dimensions of being ... Moore’s unnerving, gothic, acutely funny, lyrically metaphysical, and bittersweet tale is an audacious, mind-bending plunge into the mysteries of illness, aberration, death, grief, memory, and love.
This book avoids neat resolution—the elliptical title aptly illustrates this quality—and is also stuffed with wry humor ... There are many stylistic beauties ... The reader may wish for a little less of the 'comic' patter, so that the sparkling conversational lines aren’t buried. And while their journey has a dream-like quality...a more cohesive structure...might benefit the book. Like Lily herself, the novel seems to unravel, yet it is replete with pages of brilliant dialogue and beautifully rendered glimpses into Finn’s thoughts and feelings ... I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home is a literary creation that’s worth reading regardless of its challenges.
Thoughtful and witty ... Some of the jokes are sharper than others, but Moore strikes gold when her characters drop the act and express their feelings, building to a beautiful meditation on the difficulty of letting go, as well as the ways in which a person lives on through the memories of others. The author’s fans will love it, and those new to Moore will want see what else they’ve been missing.