Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
My rating: 3 stars

I'm really struggling with rating this book. On the one hand, the writing in this novel is AMAZING. There is no other way to put it. It's such a beautifully written book. I kept re-reading certain passages, amazed at just how beautifully they were written. Particular bits and pieces of this book were some of the most beautiful writing that I've encountered.

I thought the book was very readable and I didn't find myself struggling with the actual reading of the book at all. However, I did struggle with the very clear plot problems that I found throughout the novel. Those plot points ultimately took away from the overall novel for me. I did not love the characters but I liked them enough to find them compelling and keep reading about them. However, I felt like the plot was all over the place, here then there then back here again. Many of the plots that were initially developed seemed to pepper out with no obvious conclusion. And the conclusions that were made in a few of the plots were ineffectual and left me cold. Ultimately, I felt that Moore may have been trying to do just a bit too much with one book, with one story. And, ultimately, the novel as a whole fell short of what it could have been.

In the end, what stays with me is the writing. The amazing writing. There are scenes from this book that will stick with me forever, they were so beautifully and poetically written that I cannot seem to stop re-visiting them. That alone was worth the reading of this book. I'd hoped for more but I'll take what I was able to get. If you're a fan of beautiful writing and not entirely bothered by plot devices that often do not work, this might be a book you'd enjoy. Otherwise, you might want to look elsewhere for your next book.

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