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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

A Gate At The Stairs

It took me two years to get around to reading Lorrie Moore's  novel; it took her eleven years to get around to writing it. Tassie, the narrator, is a college student and the daughter of a midwestern potato hobby farmer and his more-than-a-little-bit-odd wife. The novel is set in post 9-11 America and there is a  slightly dazed feeling that permeates it. Tassie seems to be watching life from the sidelines, tossing out wry comments. When she needs a job she takes the first one she's offered as a nanny for a middle aged professional couple, Sarah and Edward, in the process of adopting a bi-racial baby.  The story proceeds with a halting, somewhat uncertain rhythm. Tassie's main interactions are with Sarah, baby Emmie and later with a South American student, Renaldo, with whom she is in love. Yet she seems detached from them and is not surprised when both Sarah and Reynaldo turn out not to be other than who she thought they were.  The book moves along very quietly until all of a sudden midway through shit starts happening. Catastrophes come out of nowhere, blindsiding the reader when it moves from hilarious to heartbreaking. But we should have known, as Tassie does, that it is not at all uncommon for sweetness and doom to lay side by side.

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