#10 – A Gate At The Stairs – Lorrie Moore

Set just after the events of September 2001, it is a story about Tassie Keltjin, a twenty-year-old making her way in a new world and coming of age. Tassie is a “smile-less” girl from the plains of the mid-west. She has come to a university town, her brain on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, and Simone de Beauvoir.

In between semesters, she takes a part-time job as a nanny for a family that seems mysterious and glamorous to her. Though her liking for children tends to dwindle into boredom, Tassie begins to care for, and protect, their newly adopted little girl as her own.

As the year unfolds, she is drawn even deeper into the world of the child and her hovering parents, and her own life back home becomes alien to her. As life reveals itself dramatically and shockingly, Tassie finds herself forever changed — less the person she once was, and more and more the stranger she feels herself to be.  – Publisher’s Website

I started reading the first few pages and thought is this a comedy ?  But, after reading about halfway through, there is a definite under current of the real plot of the book.  For some, 9/11 may still be a sore spot for many people, what happened, terrorism, loss of life.

In this novel Lorrie attempts to cut the seriousness of the topic with humour, which does seem to lessen the background feelings of the situation, but as she deftly changes topic, it hits you hard, like a tonne of bricks hitting you.  You lose your breath, look around and think what just happened?

I walked away from the book somewhat scathed of what happens in the plot near the end of the book, but then, maybe you will too.  Evocative, mindful that the act or even thoughts of terrorism can give you the same feelings as loss of a loved one, not telling the truth, or anything else that is as serious.  Are we tired from all of the 9/11 stressors?  Are we at a point where we tune it out since it is at the beginning of many newscasts – the terrorism, the hate, the violence?

This book was long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2010.

Random House – Bond Street Books

Read from the Book


One thought on “#10 – A Gate At The Stairs – Lorrie Moore

  1. I have picked this one up twice and even read a couple of chapters. But it has not gripped my enough to go back and read the entire book. I wonder if I should. Your review makes me wonder. Thanks for the candidness.

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