Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Quite a Few Unexpected Turns

Beautiful lyrical quality with some surprising twists

I don't want to give anything away but the impressions and expectations I had for this book from the beginning were not where I ended up in the end. That's not a criticism; I just thought the author was taking me on a path that suddenly veered off and began to pick up some sub stories along the way, all from the first person perspective of twenty year old Tassie. In the end I found a common theme beyond these being her experiences and found that underlying all of this was the story about lessons beyond the college experience.

The prose itself was beautiful, with a lyrical quality, even when descriptions of what was occurring were brutal and dark. Most of the book was a pleasant read but with in depth and difficult topics and challenges presented. I felt like the reader was peeling back an onion layer by layer, to get to the core.

Speaking of food metaphors, one of the pivotal characters in this book is a gourmet chef with a trendy restaurant so there are opportunities to focus on food which were a nice distraction. I think I would have liked to eat some of Sarah Brink's food and wished we had recipes like we did in Angelina's Bachelors, a book I read last week. Alas, they played a supporting role (very minor) but noteworthy nonetheless.

I recommend this book with the caution that it is a bumpy ride, much like coming of age can truly be. There are funny moments and very heart wrenching moments. There are laugh out loud sections when dealing with the preposterous notions of others, and there are frightening despairing sections as 9/11 is there in the background. That being said, I thought about this one for a while and decided it ultimately was a good journey and I wanted to see Tassie through to the end.

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