Friday, February 19, 2010

A Gate At the Stairs (Lorrie Moore)

This is the first of her books I've read, and honestly I'm not sure if I like it or not. It certainly is an interesting exploration of adoption, and transracial adoption to be exact, but it's also at times pretty bizarre and I felt like it went totally off the rails at the end. I do have to admit the last scene had a lot of punch and the last sentence was stellar.

The characters were all interesting though I felt bonded with none of them (perhaps with the exception of Mary Emma. The conduct of her adoptive parents is pretty gross, before, during and after the events in the plot that involve her.

I also felt like the plot was a little fractured. I'd like to think that was a meta-comment about the post 9/11 world we live in, but I doubt it.

I did find some good quotes in here, and I pulled at least two of them:

I had nothing against prayer. Those who felt it was wishful muttering perhaps had less to wish for. Religion, I could now see, without a single college course helping me out, was designed for those enduring the death of their sweet children. And when children grow stronger and died less, and were in fact less sweet, religion faded away. When children began to sweeten and die again, it returned.

... Mary Emma, whom, I realized, I had never stopped unconsciously to seek, riveted by little girls who would be her age in stores ad malls and parks... I would get close and look, which is what I realized Sarah somewhere must surely be doing. And Bonnie. If she was alive. And even Lynnette McKowen. Emmie! A little girl with four women wondering after her, looking for her, sort of, without her even knowing. That was love of the most useless kind...

Note that in the second quote, Mary Emma is the baby, Susan is the failed adoptive mother, Bonnie is the baby's first mother and Lynnette McKowen is the teenage daughter of the baby's foster mother who served as her caregiver for most of the first two years of her life.

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