Patricia Murphy's Reviews > A Gate at the Stairs

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
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's review
Mar 13, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read from March 05 to 13, 2012 — I own a copy

I love Lorrie Moore. And I liked this book. But I was talking to a writer-friend of mine, someone who has published & edited more books than most people have read, and I told him that when I got to page 200 or so of this book it "jumped the shark." He asked, "What does that mean?" and I said "I have no idea." Luckily John was in the next room and explained, "It refers to a Happy Days episode where Fonzie water skis over a shark." There. It's true. There are several sections of dialogue in the center that are quite like the Fonz on water skis.

And the scene of Reynaldo in his barren apartment reminds me of scenes from two other books: Nick Flynn's Suck City and Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Oh, and also the end of the movie St. Elmo's Fire with Demi Moore and Rob Lowe snuggling on the mattress. But here it has, oh, I don't know, a jihad flair. I wasn't convinced.

I also said to my writer-friend that the reason I liked this book in particular and Moore in general is because she keeps writing sentences I wish I had written. Like many times per page. And it's true here. But sometimes the dialogue sang the same high note so often it seemed the singer might have no lower register. I enjoyed the complex plot, the smart narrator, and of course my favorite moment, perhaps representative of why I love LM, when the 20 year old narrator imagines: "What if Sylvia Plath had married Langston Hughes." I've read reviews saying 20 year olds don't think that way. But I did at 20, and I still do at 40, and I believed this narrator most of the way around.
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03/05/2012 page 25

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