Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

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Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
Author Lorrie Moore
Cover artist Nancy Mladenoff
Country United States
Language English
Subject Memory of childhood friendships
Genre Fiction
Publisher Vintage Books
(a Random House imprint)
Publication date
1994
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 160
ISBN 978-1-4000-3382-9
Preceded by Anagrams (1986)
Followed by A Gate at the Stairs (2009)

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? is the second novel by American author Lorrie Moore, published by Vintage Books in 1994.[1] The novel was inspired by a drawing of the same name by Nancy Mladenoff.[2] While visiting an art gallery, Moore saw Mladenoff's drawing, which she bought and later used for her novel's title.[3] The novel addresses both adolescence and middle age through the eyes of Berie, a girl from upstate New York. Moore uses memory as a narrative tool, inviting the reader to follow Berie's recollections, and demonstrates the imperfections and compromises required by daily life.[4] The novel was well-received in the United States and received favorable reviews.[5]

Plot Summary[edit]

The novel is narrated by Benoite-Marie "Berie" Carr. While vacationing in Paris with her husband, Berie recalls her adolescence in Horsehearts, New York. During the summer of 1972, Berie worked with her friend, Silsby Chaussee (Sils), at Storyland, an amusement park where she sold tickets and Sils played Cinderella. The adult Berie, now a photographic curator at a local historical society, narrates the pitfalls of her marriage while searching for the close bond she shared with Sils during the Storyland summer.

As a child, Berie lived with her parents, brother Claude, and adopted sister LaRoue. Her parents hosted numerous guests, ranging from visiting academics to exchange students, that gave Berie "a tin ear for languages" and made it difficult for her to understand "foreignness, code, mood". Berie and Sils made friends with their co-workers at Storyland and saved frogs from teenage boys until Sils began dating Mike, a local boy with a motorcycle. Mike dominated Sils' time, leaving Berie out and confused by her absence. When Sils became pregnant, Berie stole money from the Storyland register to pay for an abortion.

In between recollections of Horsehearts, Berie details her troubles with Daniel, her husband. Recently, they fought and he pushed her down the stairs of their apartment, resulting in a damaged hip. Daniel is distant from Berie, and she seeks companionship from friends like Marguerite, a Parisian artist, but is ultimately unable to recreate the closeness of her relationship with Sils.

After Sils' abortion, Berie noticed her manager watching her at odd times. An accident on a ride in the park temporarily forestalled exposure, but she was eventually caught and fired. Baptized by Reverend Filo at a summer camp, she explored organized religion before finally getting her period late in adolescence. Sent to a boarding school, she achieved academic success and was astonished by her own physical development. Berie and Sils later met at a high school reunion but found that their relationship changed as they face middle age. Berie pays a last visit to LaRoue, who later commits suicide after being institutionalized for years, and the novel ends as Berie settles for comfortable distance from Daniel and her past.

Annotations[edit]

  • Berie and Daniel eat brains in Paris. These are likely sheep brains, which are considered a delicacy in countries like France and Iran.[6]
  • The narrator refers to "River City," a quote from the US musical The Music Man by Meredith Willson.
  • Berie and Sils grow up in the town of Horsehearts in northern New York state. There is a town called Horseheads, NY, that shares a similar history with Horsehearts.[7] Both were founded on the site of a horse slaughter during the 18th century.
  • Berie believed Sandra Dee was both an actress and one of the French days of the week (French "Saturday" = samedi).
  • Berie recalls a "dreary dinner" she had as an adult at which friends discuss "Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, hockey, David Hockney, mugged liberals, radicals with phlebitis, would Gorbachev soon have his own Hollywood Square?"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore. Random House. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  2. ^ Ehrenstein, David. CAUGHT MY EYE: Who Will Draw the Frog Hospital?. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  3. ^ James, Caryn (9 October 1994). 'I Feel His Lack of Love for Me'. The New York Times. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  4. ^ Kelly, Allison. Understanding Lorrie Moore. University of South Carolina Press, 2009. pp. 93-94. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  5. ^ Editorial Reviews at Amazon.com. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  6. ^ In Tehran, the Best Part of Waking Up: A Sheep's Head on Your Plate. Washington Post. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  7. ^ Horseheads Historical Society. Retrieved 28 April 2011.

External links[edit]