A Gate at the Stairs

By Lorrie Moore
(Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780375409288, 321pp.)

Publication Date: September 1, 2009

List Price: $25.95*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the September 2009 Indie Notables
“In order to earn enough to stay in school and get her degree, Tassie Keltjin decides to become a nanny for a woman who wants to adopt?and who insists Tassie be a part of the process from the first adoption agency interview. Chaos ensues as Tassie, her employer, and their little charge totter towards what they regard as normality in this wonderful novel about love and loss and the triumph of the human spirit.”
-- Kathy Ashton, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT


Description

In her best-selling story collection, Birds of America (“[it] will stand by itself as one of our funniest, most telling anatomies of human love and vulnerability” —James McManus, front page of The New York Times Book Review), Lorrie Moore wrote about the disconnect between men and women, about the precariousness of women on the edge, and about loneliness and loss.

Now, in her dazzling new novel—her first in more than a decade—Moore turns her eye on the anxiety and disconnection of post-9/11 America, on the insidiousness of racism, the blind-sidedness of war, and the recklessness thrust on others in the name of love.

As the United States begins gearing up for war in the Middle East, twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, the Midwestern daughter of a gentleman hill farmer—his “Keltjin potatoes” are justifiably famous—has come to a university town as a college student, her brain on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir.

Between semesters, she takes a job as a part-time nanny.

The family she works for seems both mysterious and glamorous to her, and although Tassie had once found children boring, she comes to care for, and to protect, their newly adopted little girl as her own.

As the year unfolds and she is drawn deeper into each of these lives, her own life back home becomes ever more alien to her: her parents are frailer; her brother, aimless and lost in high school, contemplates joining the military. Tassie finds herself becoming more and more the stranger she felt herself to be, and as life and love unravel dramatically, even shockingly, she is forever changed.

This long-awaited new novel by one of the most heralded writers of the past two decades is lyrical, funny, moving, and devastating; Lorrie Moore’s most ambitious book to date—textured, beguiling, and wise.




About the Author
LORRIE MOORE is the author of the story collections "Bark, " "Birds of America", "Like Life", and "Self-Help" and the novels "Who Will Run the Frog Hospital"? and "Anagrams". Her work has won honors from the Lannan Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the Irish Times International Prize for Fiction, the Rea Award for the Short Story, and the PEN/Malamud Award.


NPR
Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009

Many of the picks from Fresh Air's book critic look back at tough times from earlier eras, or lives upended by disaster. The best books of the year include a work of nonfiction that reveals the hidden fantasy land of a founder of American industry, and a novel that doesn't apologize for the bad behavior of its characters. Plus, a bonus mystery pick. More at NPR.org

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NPR
Tuesday, Sep 8, 2009

Lorrie Moore puts her penetrating prose and sly observations to work in her latest novel, A Gate at the Stairs. Critic Maureen Corrigan calls the book "a literary cyclone." More at NPR.org

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NPR
Saturday, Sep 5, 2009

Author Lorrie Moore recently published her first novel in 15 years. A Gate at the Stairs tells the story of a 20-year-old college student who takes a job as a part-time nanny. More at NPR.org

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