Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
A Gate at the
by Lorrie Moore, Vintage 2009
Reviewed by Hilene Flanzbaum
Tassie Keltjin, the idiosyncratic narrator
of Lorrie Moore's most recent novel, A Gate at the Stairs, is worth
knowing. Brilliant and cynical, yet hyper-sensitive to the world,
Tassie loves language: the reader gets the privilege of reading her
thoughts, and is thus treated to intricate metaphors, and layer
upon layer of description. Moore's writing is a cornucopia of
words, overabundant and sometimes too lush, but nonetheless, this
is a fascinating novel whose main character reminded me of my own
Midwestern college students who can seem taciturn and reserved but
are actually experiencing lives too keenly to comment.
A Gate at the Stairs, which was on many critics "ten best lists"
in 2009, moves slowly at first. A seemingly aimless twenty year old
becomes a nanny for a well-off middle-aged couple, supposedly
unable to conceive, who will soon adopt a child. For the first
three quarters of the book, we follow Tassie as she observes the
family: the wife, a chef of organic and trendy foods, her quixotic
and mysterious husband, and their foster child, a bright and
beautiful one-year- old who has already had three mothers. This
should be enough upon which to build a novel; yet by the end of the
book, the narrator faces a mounting set of tragedies, rooted not
only in her personal circumstance, but in the national and
political circumstances of our day.
Come see Lorrie Moore will at Butler's Visiting Writers Series
on Monday, November 1.
- Hilene Flanzbaum is Allegra Stewart Professor of English at