Current Read: A Gate at the Stairs

Sunday, February 7, 2010

" 'You have the long, pettable nose of a horse,' he said, 'and a horse's dark, sweet eyes.' And I thought of all the horses I had seen and how they always seemed to be trying to get their eyes to focus and work together. Their eyes were beautiful but shy and lost, and since they were on opposite sides of their heads like a fish's, one of them would sometimes rear up in skepticism and fear and just take a hard look at you. I felt nothing like a horse, whose instincts I knew were to run and run. I had mostly in life tried to stand still like a glob of coral so as not to be spotted by sharks."

My mom gave me Lorrie Moore's new novel, A Gate at The Stairs, for Christmas. I started it recently and hoped I would be able to finish before my trip, as I'm trying not to bring any hardcover books with me. I actually can't put it down - I was reading it at work today and got so mad inside every time a customer walked in.

This book is so good so far that I feel like a synopsis won't do it justice. I will say that Moore writes about serious, timely issues - primarily, our country's all-encompassing fear of "the other" after 9/11 - without sacrificing one ounce of literary flair. Oh, the similes. I read with a pencil for fear I won't be able to find them when I go back to reread all the beautiful passages. There's also a coming-of-age feel to the book, since the narrator is a 20-year-old farmer's daughter transplanted into a big city, but her observations are more mature, more urbane than she gives them credit to be.

"In the sky were starry poisons, like the hundred spiders that, throughout a human life span, are said to drop into one's mouth, while sleeping with a dropped jaw. I ran north and north and north and could perhaps have run all the way to Canada, where, paralyzed with sadness and exhaustion, my arms and fingers would stiffen upward and I would, in one of grief's mythic transformations, become a maple tree, my sappy tears cooked down to syrup for someone's flapjacks."

illustration by daniel hertzberg of daniel hertzberg illustration. this was one of the finalists for the cover of the novel, and i much prefer it to the photograph that was actually chosen.


Andy said...

Looks good! be hunting for this one. thanks for sharing dear.


SogniSorrisi said...

Sounds interesting!

Daniel Hertzberg said...

You have a terrific blog Mandy! Very honored that you're sharing this, thanks for the heads up and kind words!

Post a Comment