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A Gate at the Stairsby Lorrie Moore
Lorrie Moore has long been one of my favorite writers, and her first novel in years does not disappoint. With unique, full characters, an incredible level of emotional detail, and her trademark psychological wit, A Gate at the Stairs is a graceful, funny, powerful read.
"No one who is a fan of Lorrie Moore, or of coming-of-age novels rich in wit and specificity, should resist reading A Gate At The Stairs. It contains patented Moore delights: mordant humor in shades of gray to charcoal, a quirky, self-deprecating heroine who notices both too much and not enough about the people in her life, a bushel of laugh-out-loud depictions of contemporary American mores and fripperies, and finally, a double examination of the fragility of love's intent." Holloway McCandless, Identity Theory (read the entire Identity Theory review)
Synopses & Reviews
In her best-selling story collection, Birds of America, Lorrie Moore wrote about the disconnect between men and women, about the precariousness of women on the edge, and about loneliness and loss.
Now, in her dazzling new novel — her first in more than a decade — Moore turns her eye on the anxiety and disconnection of post-9/11 America, on the insidiousness of racism, the blind-sidedness of war, and the recklessness thrust on others in the name of love.
As the United States begins gearing up for war in the Middle East, twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, the Midwestern daughter of a gentleman hill farmer — his Keltjin potatoes are justifiably famous — has come to a university town as a college student, her brain on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir.
Between semesters, she takes a job as a part-time nanny.
The family she works for seems both mysterious and glamorous to her, and although Tassie had once found children boring, she comes to care for, and to protect, their newly adopted little girl as her own.
As the year unfolds and she is drawn deeper into each of these lives, her own life back home becomes ever more alien to her: her parents are frailer; her brother, aimless and lost in high school, contemplates joining the military. Tassie finds herself becoming more and more the stranger she felt herself to be, and as life and love unravel dramatically, even shockingly, she is forever changed.
This long-awaited new novel by one of the most heralded writers of the past two decades is lyrical, funny, moving, and devastating; Lorrie Moore's most ambitious book to date — textured, beguiling, and wise.
"Moore may be the most irresistible contemporary American writer....On finishing A Gate at the Stairs, I turned to the reader nearest to me and made her swear to read it immediately." Jonathan Lethem, New York Times Book Review
"With dizzying wit and acute intelligence...A Gate at the Stairs features a Midwestern coed turned part-time nanny drawn into the full-time drama of a family who all demand babysitting." Vanity Fair
"The ending of this book is a miracle of lyric force, beautiful and beautifully constructed." Vince Passaro, O, The Oprah Magazine
"The unique vision and exquisite writing cast a spell." Booklist (starred)
About the Author
Lorrie Moore is the author of the story collections Birds of America, Like Life, and Self-Help and the novels Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and Anagrams. Her work has won honors from the Lannan Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the Irish Times International Prize for Fiction, the Rea Award for the Short Story, and the PEN/Malamud Award. She is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
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