I fell into a deep trance after reading all the books in the His Dark Materials series. I couldn’t for the life of me think of anything to follow those books up with. I tried Lyra’s Oxford, also by Pullman, but there were two problems with it: 1) it was maybe 45 pages long and 2) it was a major let-down (although the etchings in it are incredible). Then, just my luck!, my requested copy of Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs came in.
Major dork confession: I love being the first person to check a book out. Only I had touched that book (other than, you know, catalogers and circ people). Either way, I LOVE IT. I love that feeling. Fresh pages and only one stamp in the back–ahhhh, yes. I have adored Lorrie Moore for years, and her newest book did not let me down. Lorrie Moore was the writer I always wanted to be (when I wanted to be a writer). I can’t begin to guess how many short stories I wrote in the second person in college writing workshops because of her. I sometimes fear that short story writers can’t break out of the short story form, and after reading Moore’s fairly disappointing Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and her also kind of disappointing novel Anagrams, I felt sure that Moore was one of those who just plain can’t. And I was okay with that, because I can’t begrudge her talent in short story form.
But, alas, and thankfully, A Gate at the Stairs surprised me. I can’t say that it held my interest fully throughout. There are lines within that dazzled me and aspects of the story that I found completely marvelous, yet about 50 pages from the end I wanted OUT (This seems to be a common trait in novels by people who usually write short stories. A surprising talent for long-windedness.). Moore loves puns & plays on words–I’ve read reviews that chide her for this (her writing in Anagrams, in particular, had a tendency to get carried away with punning). She is sneakily funny, and has the rare and exciting ability to make you laugh so hard AND break your heart in one sentence. I can’t think of a writer who writes better characters than Moore (Tassie, in Moore’s latest, is no exception), and I hopehopehope that I get to see more of her characters in the future.
While mourning the end of His Dark Materials, I also caught up on the newest installation to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy–Catching Fire. I wrote about the first book in this series a few weeks ago, and the second book was just as exciting. These are begging to be made into a movie someday and I am already excited about it. I’d definitely recommend this series to more mature young teen readers (I say more mature because even I am a little uncomfortable with some of the blood/drama in this series).
I’m currently about 20 pages from the end of Octavia Butler’s Kindred, which I am lingering over & don’t want to finish, ever. This is an exceptional book. I think I have mentioned this before, but Butler’s female characters are out of this world tough and are very much inspirational. I don’t know how to describe this book. It’s about time travel & slavery & so much more. 2 thumbs up.