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Book Review: "A Gate at the Stairs" by Lorrie Moore

2/5 - the novel was bland and without style, but its concept may redeem it yet...

By Annie KapurPublished 2 months ago • 3 min read
From: Amazon

From the start of this book I was cautious. This is not my kind of writing at all because of the way it is written. The character often comes off as abrupt and more than often, pretentious. Lorrie Moore is not particularly my favourite writer and probably is nowhere near my top 50. Her writing can often feel emotionless and bland with no colour or air to it. However, the storyline to this book is its saving grace as it winds around the college life of probably one of the most insufferable female protagonists I have read in a while. Why? There is always some 'great drama' happening in her life which seems to me a completely and utterly inaccurate way to present the lives of college students who are simply trying their best. Be that as it may, many of the characters of this book are completely insufferable and so, I cannot take too many points away as that might be the whole point of the book. As far as I know, this book is just a collection of bad people.

From: Amazon

The main character's name is Tassie and she is going to a college which has regularly been called the Athens of the Midwest. Apart from this, she applies to be a babysitter for a wome who does not actually have a baby. Instead, this woman is looking to adopt a biracial child named Emmie. However, this woman's marriage is not going to well which throws a ton of s*** to the wall for adoption cases. Unfortunately, Tassie is in the middle of all of this when she starts an affair with a Brazillian who is not really Brazillian and not really a college student at all, but instead he just says his name is Reynaldo and he does not even speak the same language as Brazillian people. It's confusing as hell the kind of lies this guy weaves but when you find out who he really is, the only feeling you're left with is that Tassie must be ablithering idiot to not see that coming from a mile away. Don't worry, you will find out way before she does. Then there's a weird storyline about her brother which is kind of shoehorned in there. It just seems rather messy for a book that barely reaches 300 pages.

Too much happens in this book and even though I do like the concept of the story and the storyline's ability to weave in and out of characters, I do not appreciate how messy and unorganised it feels. The characters seems like they have little personality and just get thrown into the mix here and there. The ending is a bit of a bore thout it does feel symbolic and the main character often feels just a bit silly and pathetic at times. You do often wonder how she made it to college being as naive and unquestioning of motive as she is. It's like she just automatically thinks that everyone will always be nice and giving towards her - it is not the way to go if you're in college and everyone knows that.

From: Print Magazine

The writing is flawed. It is bland and without style. When in the relationship with the Brazillian-but-not-really-Brazillian guy you do not actually feel like a new chapter in her life has started, the relationship already feels dry and out of steam from the beginning. The character of Tassie is often written like she is watching paint dry. The inaccuracy of the college student lifestyle does not seem to matter too much here against the backdrop of writing that has no atmosphere or design whatsoever.

Yes, the concept of the novel was well thought out, but the execution was off. There should have been more description, more atmosphere, more character development rather than all of these things hopping around and happening altogether. I would have appreciated maybe 100 or so extra pages in the book to do this and give the writing a good split in terms of what was going on and when. I am going to try to read more of this author yet because I do see that there's a point - I'm just not sure what the point is.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

180K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer.

Film and Writing (M.A)

📍Birmingham, UK

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  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Great work!

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