Books: “I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home”by Lorrie Moore
Speaking to the dead isn’t anything new in literature. This somewhat morbid device, however, crosses the line into ick, in “I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home,” the new novel by acclaimed short story writer Lorrie Moore.
Finn, a school teacher, visits his brother Max, who is dying in a Bronx hospice. While the two trade wisecracks, Finn receives word that the love of his life, his ex-girlfriend named Lily, has killed herself. Distraught, he immediately departs for the cemetery in Chicago where she was buried. Somehow, Finn finds her unburied, walking around with dirt in her mouth and worms wriggling on her neck. They rekindle their romance and leave on a road trip to Tennessee, where she plans to commit her decaying body to science.
That is essentially the plot. Threaded into the story is a series of diary entries written by the proprietress of a 19th-century boardinghouse. A death is involved there as well, which may be John Wilkes Booth’s.
I will spare you Moore’s more grotesque descriptions of the undead Lily (“her eyes as gold as chicken fat” is the least offensive.) But if such creepiness piques your curiosity, give this novel a go. After all, George Saunders’ novel “Lincoln in the Bardo,” where the president speaks to his dead son Willie, was a New York Times best seller. Who knew?