A Gate at the Stairs
I’ve spent the last day or so reading Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs, a book I’ve been meaning to knock over for a while. Besides a few of the more-anthologized stories I’ve not read much Moore until now, so she’s come as something of a revelation, not least because of the effortlessness with which she allows her characters to be at once sad, ridiculous and painfully real, a combination which lends the book a luminosity and a wit that don’t often go together. But the line that had me laughing out loud this afternoon was this, awful, hopeless, hilarious out-take from a marriage:
“You emptied the top rack of the dishwasher but not the bottom, so the clean dishes have gotten all mixed up with the dirty ones – and now you want to have sex?”
How can one not love this woman?
I liked this passage: ‘”Mary-Emma Bertha Thornwood-Brink. I’m afraid she’s going to be one of those children with too many names.” I knew them from my freshman year: the trainlike names that were like a bulletin board of parental indecision, obligation, genetic pride, misplaced creativity and politics of every sort.”
I think I’ll send it to my parents.
It’s a seriously fantastic book, so much so it’s rather spoiled everything I’ve read since.
This ended up being my book of the year for 2009 for exactly the reasons you mention. Before I started, someone described this as a ‘9/11’ novel so I was loathe to begin but I think it’s the most touching novel I’ve read in some time and it never becomes trite.
In fact, I think it should have pipped The Lacuna for the Orange.