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A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

A Gate at the Stairs (2009)

by Lorrie Moore

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2,2031534,484 (3.37)210
"...As the United States begins gearing up for war in the Middle East, twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, the Midwestern daughter of a gentleman hill farmer--his 'Keltjin potatoes' are justifiably famous--has come to a university town as a college student, her brain on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir. Between semesters, she takes a job as a part-time nanny. The family she works for seems both mysterious and glamorous to her, and although Tassie had once found children boring, she comes to care for, and to protect, their newly adopted little girl as her own. As the year unfolds and she is drawn deeper into each of these lives, her own life back home becomes ever more alien to her: her parents are frailer; her brother, aimless and lost in high school, contemplates joining the military. Tassie finds herself becoming more and more the stranger she felt herself to be, and as life and love unravel dramatically, even shockingly, she is forever changed..."--dust cover flap.… (more)

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English (148)  Spanish (4)  French (1)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 148 (next | show all)
Although this book is very well written, overall I found it quite disappointing. There are interesting characters but their psychology is never fully explored. There are a lot of lenghty descriptions of nature that I found irrelevant to the plot. I also found the final revelation very much expected. I kept on reading hoping to get to know more but I was left wanting. On the other hand the main character is very well delineated and the writing is very poetic and beautiful. ( )
  ElisaDiNapoli | Sep 19, 2019 |
This book went in a very different direction than I expected, which was a good thing. ( )
  Katie80 | Oct 8, 2018 |
Funny, but sad. (Very good.) ( )
  smallself | Aug 23, 2018 |
Something I'm tired of hearing (and am guilty of) about authors and books is "it's not as good as_______!!!" Well, obviously if you are going to compare the newest book to the book that made you fall in love with the author to begin with, it will probably never be as good. It's like the first time you fall in love. NOTHING will ever be quite like it.

That being said, I loved this book. It wasn't classic Moore because Moore has been out of the game of writing novels for something like 10 or more years. This is NEW classic Moore.

Moore describes post-9/11 America so perfectly. The nuclear family couldn't be more typical and goofy and The event that triggers Tassie's entrance into adulthood is so sad and tragic that you suddenly understand how sad and tragic the War in Iraq and Afghanistan really are.

Tassie is an old soul, I don't find fault in that. I loved the story of little Emmie.


The e-mail that Tassie finally reads was the best part of the novel for me. I have missed opportunities that seem huge, before. It's sad and it made me sad for Tassie. ( )
  ylimejane | Feb 7, 2018 |
This is a case where I think I'd have enjoyed the book more if not the audio version. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 148 (next | show all)
As the drifts of perfectly turned moments mount up about the reader's shoulders, along with a corresponding paucity of dramatic incident, forward motion becomes increasingly difficult. Moore is a great writer, but you wish that every once in a while, she would settle for just being good.
added by Shortride | editTime, Lev Grossman (Oct 5, 2009)
Moore has performed a brilliant feat. She has retained the shining, fluid, and, yes, funny surface of her earlier work. But she has also given us a narrator who attempts to peer through the shimmering veil of language to the truth behind.
added by Shortride | editSlate, Claire Dederer (Sep 7, 2009)
What Moore crafts is so like life that to condemn Tassie for the ways in which she fails and falls short as a person would demand that we examine such behavior in ourselves. Thank goodness this book is funny, otherwise, it would be nearly unbearable.
added by Shortride | editAssociated Press, Patrick Condon (Sep 3, 2009)
Aggressively clever, meticulously crafted -- and exhausting.
added by jjlong | editSalon, Stephanie Zacharek (Sep 1, 2009)
Great writers usually present us with mysteries, but the mystery Lorrie Moore presents consists of appearing genial, joshing and earnest at once — unmysterious, in other words, yet still great. She’s a discomfiting, sometimes even rageful writer, lurking in the disguise of an endearing one.
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"As for living, we shall have our servants do that for us."

Madama Butterfly

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This book is for Victoria Wilson and Melanie Jackson.
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The cold came late that fall and the songbirds were caught off guard.
If he had loved me, or even if he’d just have said so, I would have died of happiness. But it didn’t happen. So I didn’t die of happiness. Words for a tombstone: SHE DIDN’T DIE OF HAPPINESS.
This was love, I supposed, and eventually I would come to know it. Someday it would choose me and I would come to understand its spell, for long stretches and short, two times, maybe three, and then quite probably it would choose me never again.
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Twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin yearns to escape her provincial home. She moves to the college town of Troy to start university and takes a job as a part-time nanny to a glamorous couple. Tassie is drawn into their life and that of their newly adopted toddler. As the household reveals its complications, Tassie is forced out of her naivety, and the past and the future burst forth in dramatic and shocking ways.
Haiku summary
Yuppies need nanny
Every last thing is lost
Beware depressed much?

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