counter on blogger

Pickle Me This

September 18, 2009

The Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

The thing about Lorrie Moore, I’ve found, is that everybody loves her. Except me, because I didn’t even read her until I read her story “How to be an Other Woman” in the anthology My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead. Which made clear why everybody loved her, so I read her novel Anagrams next, which might have been a mistake, because while it was good, it didn’t leave me hungry for more. But then something about the buzz from her novel The Gate at the Stairs hooked me– Lisa Moore’s rave review definitely, and the novel’s dealings with children and motherhood, as this is much/entirely my life these days.

Another thing about my life these days, however, is that I’m tired. I am so unbelievably, unrelentingly tired that it’s quite hilarious, and only because when I am this tired, I’ll laugh at absolutely anything. (Baby no longer sleeps for more than three hours at a time, and therefore neither do I.) And for this reason, I think, as I read this novel, I kept thinking I was reading a book by Francine Prose. I am not sure why– it had a bit of Goldengrove AND Blue Angel about it, and was nothing like Anagrams, or something you’d expect from a short story writer, and I was also (as I said) really, really tired. All of which is beside the point. (Yawn. And at least I didn’t get her confused with Francine Pascal.)

I was fortunate, I think, to come to this novel as I did, having not read much of Moore before. Maud Newton posts her own thoughts on the novel and links to others‘, and the consensus seems to be that Lorrie Moore devotees are a bit disappointed. That the novel is brilliant and absorbing in so many ways, but flawed and unsatisfying at the same time. And it’s true that this novel wasn’t perfect, but I was glad to be reading it as one being awed by the power of Lorrie Moore for the very first time. Critics have been unconvinced by Moore’s narrator, Tassie Keltjin, a twenty-year old who seems much more like just a vehicle for Lorrie Moore’s point of view and lingual deftness, but so entranced was I by such a pov and deftness, I wasn’t about to complain.

The novel was so interesting. Which is such a lame way to describe anything, but what I mean by this is that I could think about it forever– about the significance of the title, for example, and the narrative arc which isn’t an arc, and the characters’ stories, and how the narrative was utterly unpredictable, not because it was exciting, but because it was like how life is. How the novel was so accessible, and so challenging at the very same time, and the unending layers you could reveal inside it if you took the time to try.

Yesterday I went into the bookstore to check out Lorrie Moore’s Birds of America. Another shopper saw me reading the back and said, “That book is amazing. Buy it.” I said, “I’m going to. I’m reading her new book right now.” She said, “That’s just what I’m here to get,” and I pointed her towards its spot on the new hardcovers table. “It’s fantastic,” I said, because flawed or not, it is.

And that is the story of how I came to join the legions of those in love with Lorrie Moore.

One thought on “The Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore”

  1. Diane says:

    I'm so happy, I just discovered your blog 🙂 This book recently was added to my TBR list. Thanks for posting about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Order my Latest Novel


Sign up for Pickle Me This: The Digest

Best of the blog delivered to your inbox each month! The Digest also includes news and updates about my creative projects and opportunities for you to work with me.

Stop Wondering about Blogging, and Build a Blog That’s Wonder-Full:

Get My New Free Download: 5 MORE Prompts to Bring Back Your Blogging Spark!

Photo Kerry Clare with her Laptop

My Books

The Doors
Twitter Pinterest Pinterest Good Reads RSS Post