A gate at the stairs book cover

I’m definitely not the first person to say that Lorrie Moore’s ability to build beautiful stories sentence by immaculate sentence  is excellent. But I’ll say it over and over again, especially about  A Gate at the Stairs.

Tassie Keltjin, the narrator and heroine, is rendered so finely and authentically that I can’t help but be on the look out for her whenever I find myself on campus.  I can’t get over how real she seems, she’s not so smart or sexy or athletic or well read or insightful or pretty or particularly special in any way. I don’t mean she was a dud– just that she has the complicated dignity of someone more or less average; her role wasn’t to be saved or doomed. Her role was to reach out from the french cut pages of this book and into my heart.

The way that Moore was able to take Tassie’s experiments with intimacy and create this breathing guide to understanding just a little bit more about the world, about America, about motherhood, about women and men and room mates and brothers, gave me a feeling of tremendous awe.

This is why I read books.  Because the power of imaginative empathy is so overwhelmingly illuminating, so much so in this work that I feel like I can’t even begin to cross the bridge of language that would enable me to tell you about this ineffable liberty of feeling. Instead all I can do is beg for more, more, Moore.