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Authors: Lorrie Moore

Tags: #Adult, #Contemporary

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital

BOOK: Who Will Run the Frog Hospital
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

“A terrifically beguiling writer.… What unfolds in
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
is as fresh and funny as it is disturbing.… This is a strangely haunting novel [that] reminds us once again of the pleasures and depths to be found in Lorrie Moore’s breezy company. She’s a remarkable writer.”

The Plain Dealer

“Moore flawlessly renders the sensations of teendom, the manic swings, the thirst for savvy, the intimacies … the sudden scarring betrayals.…
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
is primo Moore, proof positive that her habit-forming gifts remain, especially when it comes to rendering the female condition in all its sadness and hilarity.”

The Village Voice Literary Supplement

“Lorrie Moore is dazzling, funny, and smart all over again in
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
And wiser, without being sadder.”

—John Casey

“The mood of melancholy that Moore so effortlessly conjures would be unbearable if the writing were not so inspirational. For my money, Moore is now the best American writer of her generation.”

—Nick Hornby,
The Sunday Times

“Moore’s ability to render an adolescent girl’s consciousness, her apprehension of life with its provisionality and inchoateness, is truly impressive.”

The Boston Globe

“The very talented Lorrie Moore has always enjoyed a fabulous reputation among critics for her bittersweet humor, graceful writing, and sensitive insights. In
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
she proves how much she deserves that reputation—and a larger reading audience.”

USA Today

“A brilliant portrayal of a woman struggling to integrate the disparate worlds of her youth and her adulthood.”

San Francisco Review of Books

“In exquisite prose, Lorrie Moore evokes time, place, and a range of emotions. This funny, poignant novel is as delicious as a French pastry.”


“This impressionistic fiction is a tender, tough, and elegiac evocation of that fleeting instant when girls first discern, on the horizon, the women they will become.”


“America’s most wry and radiant comic writer.… Her books [are] compact, perfectly sculpted comic masterpieces.”

Harper’s Bazaar

“Its pleasure is in the details, sparkling spin-offs in the reader’s memory. The songs sung, the sense of no-holds-barred.”

Detroit Free Press

“As usual, this book is filled with wonders and startlements of language and conclusion.”

—Edward Albee

“For new readers and those who already love her unerring, quirky eye,
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
is as true a depiction of female adolescence as we’ve had since Margaret Atwood’s
Cat’s Eye

The Dallas Morning News

“A fresh and unflinchingly honest look at adolescence. It is a small book, but its impact is quite big.”

—The Christian Science Monitor

“It is a measure of this small and delicate book, with its initially obscure title, that it makes such a deep incision.… Somewhere we all know the words of our adolescence, and here Moore makes them mournfully sing.”

Literary Review

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

Lorrie Moore is the author of the story collections
Birds of America, Self-Help
, and
Like Life
and the novels
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
. Her work has appeared in
The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories
, and
Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards
. Moore is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.



Birds of America

Like Life


Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?


by Lorrie Moore

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc.,
New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 1994.

Vintage is a registered trademark and Vintage Contemporaries and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following
for permission to reprint previously published material:
CPP/Belwin, Inc.:
Excerpt (in Franglais) from “Theme from New York, New York,” words by Fred Ebb, music by John Kander, copyright © 1977 by United Artists Corporation, c/o EMI Unart Catalog I. International copyright secured. Made in USA. All rights reserved. Worldwide print rights controlled by CPP/Belwin, Inc., Miami, Florida 33014. Used by permission.
EMI Music Publishing:
Excerpt from “And When I Die” by Laura Nyro, copyright © 1966 (copyright renewed 1994) by EMI Blackwood Music Inc. (BMI); excerpt from “Tapestry” by Carole King, copyright © 1971 by Colgems-EMI Music Inc. (ASCAP). International copyright secured.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Frontispiece illustration,
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
, by Nancy Mladenoff

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition as follows:
Moore, Lorrie.
Who will run the frog hospital?: a novel / Lorrie Moore.
p.   cm.
eISBN: 978-0-307-81690-0
1. Teenage girls—New York (State)—Fiction.
2. Friendship—New York (State)—Fiction.  I. Title.
PS3563.06225 W58   1994
813′.54—dc20   94-278


for MFB


How public—like a Frog—

To tell one’s name—the livelong June—


I am thankful that this pond was made deep and pure for a symbol.


Well run, Thisby.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In appreciation of their notice and support I would like to thank the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Brandeis University, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and the University of Wisconsin.

For her work and her permission, my deepest gratitude goes also to Nancy Mladenoff.


we eat brains every night. My husband likes the vaporous, fishy mousse of them. They are a kind of seafood, he thinks, locked tightly in the skull, like shelled creatures in the dark caves of the ocean, sprung suddenly free and killed by light; they’ve grown clammy with shelter, fortressed vulnerability, dreamy nights. Me, I’m eating for a flashback.

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” says Daniel, my husband, finger raised, as if the thought has just come to him via the
. “Remember the beast you eat. And it will remember you.”

I’m hoping for something Proustian, all that forgotten childhood. I mash them against the roof of my mouth, melt them, waiting for something to be triggered in my head, in empathy or chemistry or some other rush of protein. The
tempest in the teacup, the typhoon in the trout; there is wine, and we drink lots of it.

We sit beside people who show us wallet pictures of their children.
“Sont-ils si mignons!”
I say. My husband constructs remarks in his own patois.
We, us, have no little ones
. He doesn’t know French. But he studied Spanish once, and now, with a sad robustness, speaks of our childlessness to the couple next to us. “But,” he adds, thinking fondly of our cat, “we do have a large
at home.”

means ‘cake,’ ” I whisper. “You’ve just told them we have a large cake at home.” I don’t know why he always strikes up conversations with the people next to us. But he strikes them up, thinking it friendly and polite rather than oafish and irritating, which is what I think.

Afterward we always go to the same
for whiskey truffles. One feels the captured storm in these, a warm storm under the tongue.

“What aggrandizement are we in again?” my husband asks.

“What ‘aggrandizement’?” I say. “I don’t know, but I think we’re in
one of the biggies
.” My husband pronounces
as if it were Spanish,
as if it were
. The affectionate farce I make of him ignores the ways I feel his lack of love for me. But we are managing. We touch each other’s sleeves. We say, “Look at that!,” wanting our eyes to merge, our minds to be one. We are in Paris, with its impeccable marzipan and light, its whiffs of sewage and police state. With my sore hip and his fallen arches (“fallen archness,” Daniel calls it), we walk the
, stand on all the bridges in the misty rain, and look out on this pretty place, secretly imagining being married to other people—right here in River City!—and sometimes not, sometimes simply wondering, silently or aloud, what will become of the world.


a child, I tried hard for a time to split my voice. I wanted to make chords, to splinter my throat into harmonies—floreted as a field, which is how I saw it. It seemed like something one should be able to do. With concentration and a muscular push of air, I felt, I might be able to people myself, unleash the crowd in my voice box, give birth, set free all the moods and nuances, all the lovely and mystical inhabitants of my mind’s speech. Afternoons, by myself, I would go beyond the garden and the currant bushes, past the lavender-crowned chives and slender asparagus, past the sunflowers knocked bent by deer or an unseasonal frost, past the gully grass to the meadow far behind our house. Or I’d go down the road to the empty lot near the Naval Reserve where in winter the village plow and dump truck unloaded snow and where in summer sometimes the boys played ball. I would look out upon the wildflowers, the mulch of swamp and leaves, the spring moss greening on the rocks, or the boulderous mountains of street-black snow, whatever season it happened to be—my mittens clotted with ice, or my hands grimy with marsh mud—and from the back of my larynx I’d send part of my voice out toward the horizon and part of it straight up toward the sky. There must have been pain in me. I wanted to howl and fly and break apart.

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