Archives for posts with tag: A Gate at the Stairs

Bedside Table Books To Date

I’ve read 13 books so far this year, which is slightly more than 1/4 of the way to the 50 I’ve set as my resolution. I wanted to take a little minute here to go over some observations about what I’ve read so far:

  • five outta thirteen are authored by women, and maybe a half, if you count Lydia Davis’ translation of Madame Bovary.
  • Four of these are translated books: Three from French, one from Italian. None of the translated works were originally written by women.
  • Four of these books are autobiographical or memoir, as opposed to novels.  I think it’s fair to count How Should A Person Be? in this category.
  • Three, actually call it three and a half,  of these include main plots or subplots that feature characters dealing with their own identities as Jews  in American, Canadian, and European contexts. (The half refers to Tassie Keltjin’s fascination with her Jewish mother and goyish secular father in A Gate at the Stairs.)
  • Of the thirteen books, I only read two that I wouldn’t gladly read again (American Pastoral and My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist).
  • One of these books was about the reproductive system of a dog.

My top five so far, in order of first remembrance:

1. Tracks, by Louise Erdrich

2. How Should A Person Be?, by Sheila Heti

3.The Mystery Guest, by Grégoire Boullier

4. The Mezzanine, by Nicholson Baker

5. Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi

Although honestly I really want to put Madame Bovary and A Gate at the Stairs, and To the Lighthouse and My Dog Tulip on that list. I guess that’s ’cause I’m not really one for playing favorites. Plus, I’ve been lucky enough to have chosen, for the most part, pretty damn good books so far.

I’m always on the lookout for good books.

If you’ve got any rad recomendations, drop me a line in the comments, or even send me an e-mail at see.emily.read[at]gmail.com.

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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.