Thursday, March 15, 2012

Literary Bite: A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

My impression of A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore is that the author tried to fit in too many things and it ended up falling flat. It’s the story of a college age girl from Nebraska who goes to college in a Midwestern city, nannies for an adopting couple (race issues!), dates a potential terrorist, and has issues with her own parents who are rural farmers and her brother who joins the military. (See what I mean???)

So I’m not insanely anti-this book, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

But then maybe I’m wrong? 

The NYT reviewer says, “I’m aware of one — one — reader who doesn’t care for Lorrie Moore, and even that one seems a little apologetic about it.”

So I guess count me as number two?

It’s a “post-9/11” book, set in the autumn of 2001, but for most of the book the reader can’t really tell when or where it’s happening. I felt that the narrator and main character, 20-year-old Tassie, has the internal voice and eyes of someone much older (this reviewer agrees). The themes were all good – but overall they just felt a bit too contrived. 

Moore comes from a background of short story writing, which is apparent in the style of her prose. It’s powerful…but almost too powerful to sustain a novel. 

Have you read this? What did you think?