Lorrie Moore collectionwords are all you need: Speech acts in Lorrie Moore's anagrams

Karen Weekes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Indulgence in wordplay is a chief marker of Lorrie Moore's prose. No matter the voice or context, her protagonists find refuge in words' multiple meanings, as near-puns, near-anagrams, and other examples of wordplay are strewn throughout her tales. Her characters are often shaped by their language and their response to others' words more than by their responses to events, giving speech acts more import than actual actions. All storytelling can be viewed as a type of speech act between author and reader, but Moore's protagonists use speech acts as a respite from tension and interpersonal conflict, to the extent of using language to invent new characters, such as Georgianne and Eleanor in Anagrams. People in Moore's tales are rarely looking for the "right" - consoling, helpful - words; they instead use language as a bandage to cover the wounds of failing, or failed, relationships. Speech acts ultimately prove fruitless in holding off the inevitable, and her characters are almost always alone at the end of their stories, isolated by the repercussions of their own speech acts. Their facility with language is a consolation in, but often contributor to, their loneliness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-563
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of American Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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