A Gate at the Stairs

A Gate at the Stairs

by Lorrie Moore

Gail Reid: Tassie Keltjin is a 20-year old college girl from the country whose father grows specialty potatoes for gourmet restaurants. When Tassie goes to college less than a hundred miles from home, she is more than a world away at her liberal, progressive university. There she gets a job with Sarah whose upscale restaurant features her father's potatoes. But a different kind of connection develops when Tassie becomes the nanny of Sarah's soon-to-be adopted mixed-race child. The relationship between Tassie and Sarah and the toddler Emmie form the crux of the story but the reader is thrown into the many ramifications of the adoption process in 21st century America. Another major theme is the disconnect between Tassie's life at home and her life in college.

Apparently, A Gate at the Stairs is a long-awaited novel from well-known short story writer Lorrie Moore. Although there were some humorous parodies of a liberal university environment, the prose was almost always dense and difficult. There were too many conversations filled with plays on words, puns, and other intellectual riff-raff. It was annoying to have so many characters talk this way. I would be interested to hear other readers' reactions.
Rating: ***

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