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A Gate at the Stairs (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – August 24, 2010
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Deliver Her: A Novel
The mother of a grieving teenager makes a decision that may shatter their family forever. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
Where her life intersects with the household in which she will work as a nanny, the story moves and engages the reader. The process of private adoption, the sadness of birth mothers, the attachment the "help" develops for the child who is not hers, and the oblique observation of the marriage of your employer; so perfectly done. As perfectly done is the development of Tassie's romance with her mysterious Brazilian, the quiet way she discovers the joys of lovemaking, how she seeks out the passions of her own life on her employer's time, unaware that this is absolutely not right.
But things need to happen in a story, and as hilarious as Tassie and Sarah's conversations are, as oily and disgusting as Edward and his "hair cape" are, as painful as Tassie's plummet into unrequited love with Reynaldo is, when things happen here, they happen. Boom, boom, boom, Tassie is confronted with three great griefs all in a row. Where do you turn when everything in life disappoints you? Home, I guess.
There are things "wrong" with this book. Tassie's voice, though accurate, is at times allowed to veer into hectic, antic, as she talks too much and Moore lets her do that. She tosses off cynical natterings to the point where as i reader I almost didn't like her, because none of her cynicism was based on experience. Also, Moore needs to pick a simile.Read more ›
There were long (they seemed long anyway) stretches in the novel where I wanted to say "OK, I get the point! These people are callow and self-absorbed." Or where I wished she had stopped after the first, or even the second, mind-bending metaphor for the same observation.
And then there is the plot, which hangs together only tenuously. Tassie at school and Tassie at home seem largely unconnected, and there are elements of suspense introduced that trail off into nothingness. Perhaps this could be explained as imitative of life, but it often seems to be gratuitous.
Tassie's family is eccentric, a pleasure we have come to expect from Moore, but too often these people come off as self-parodies. The early character development of Tassie's brother Robert is a caricature that doesn't really pave the way for the depth of grief that engulfs the end of the novel.
Tassie is an interesting character and an entertaining narrator, but her insouciance and diffidence distance us from her throughout, and we never really fully penetrate her self-protective shield. In the end I agree with the reviewer who said that Moore would be better served by leaving the undergraduate world behind and finding adult company.
A lot, unfortunately. Virtually everyone agrees that Moore is a major talent. It's just that her talent has a default setting - the short story - and when she leaves it, the engine of her narrative stalls. It's a problem particular to short story writers of genius: Cheever and O. Henry both had it. The ties to the 'post 9/11 psyche' seem nebulous and tacked-on; the plot evaporates thirty-nine pages into the novel, and Moore has spun better silk out of similar material in her justly acclaimed story, 'You're Ugly, Too'. Moore deserves your attention, but not for this. Spend your hard-earned cash on her Collected Stories instead.
There are actually two narratives in "A Gate at the Stairs:" the first centers on Tassie's college life and the second on her home life. These two worlds do not intersect and the home narrative is much less successful. For reasons I couldn't fathom, Moore gives Tassie an unhappy Jewish mother who behaves oddly (she orders things online and never opens the boxes, for instance), although the reasons for her unhappiness are never divulged. I sensed that Moore was less comfortable with this material; the latke (potato pancake) frying scene was completely weird and wrong, for instance. (You don't grate potatoes the day before you make latkes, unless you enjoy fermentation and strange colors, and you certainly don't slap them together like a hamburger patty, as Tassie does.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A story of a girl from the Midwest told in a very unemotional almost dark story.Published 2 months ago by nygal
The voice of the narrator draws us in immediately. Clever, likeable, morally astute, and ready to begin her life, she is perfectly poised to take chances that lead to... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Kittenheelz
A gate at the stairs to keep people out, to keep people in. Ms Moore is great at short stories. There are several short stories contained in this novel. Read morePublished 7 months ago by josephine briggs
Not that good. [This is the first e-book I’ve downloaded using the Kindle app on my iPhone. I’m not too sure that this format had a little to do with not enjoying Moore’s book as... Read morePublished 8 months ago by RNJ
I love this novel and have given it as a gift several times.Published 9 months ago by Mary E. Murphy
Awful. Checked this out based on great critical reviews but it was a chore to get through two chapters. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jeff
The brilliant short story writer Lorrie Moore’s novel is an exercise in frustration for the well-wishing reader. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Bart Mills
I picked this up at a library book sale, I had never heard of the author, nor am I familiar with any of her short stories, or previous work. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Karen