Book #8: A Gate at the Stairs

Oh yeah. I still like to read books.

A Gate at the Stairs

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this. The writing was beautiful, and I want to be friends with Tassie (though I think she might roll her eyes at me).

Maybe this struck a chord a little more with me since I was also in college in a small town immediately after 9/11? I was definitely thinking of my own experience in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, though they were in a much more liberal college town in the book.

I knew from my friend Michelle’s review that the ending was a little up in the air, so I was ready for it, and I didn’t feel disappointed. I thought the very last scene was a little hokey but overall, I adored this. I highlighted at least a dozen delicious passages.

“Love is the answer, said the songs, and that’s OK. It was OK, I supposed, as an answer. But no more than that. It was not a solution; it wasn’t really even an answer, just a reply.” 


“Her gaze made a slow, observing circle around my nose and mouth. “I’m Sarah Brink,” she said finally. I was not used to being looked at close up, not used to the thing I was looking at looking back. Certainly my own mother had never done such looking, and in general my face had the kind of smooth, round stupidity that did not prompt the world’s study. I always felt as hidden as the hull in a berry, as secret and fetal as the curled fortune in a cookie, and such hiddenness was not without its advantages, its egotisms, its grief-fed grandiosities.”

“I had never eaten such intricately prepared food before, and doing so in this kind of mournful, prayerful solitude, in a public place, where by this time no one but I was seated without a companion, made each bite sing and roar in my mouth. Still, it was an odd experience for me to have the palate so cared for and the spirit so untouched. It was a condition of prayerless worship. Endless communion. Gospel-less church.” 

“Yes,” she said. “‘I Been Working on the Railroad.’There’s just two things I’m worried about with that: the grammar and the use of slave labor.” 

“I tried not to think of my one excursion to Whole Foods, over a year ago, where I found myself paralyzed by all the special food for special people, whose special murmurings seemed to be saying, “Out of my way! I want a Tofurkey!” 

Lorrie Moore could write about the phone book and it would be beautiful.

I will also be stealing an idea from the part of the book about Christmas and saving earrings who have lost their mate for Christmas ornaments.



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