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A gate at the stairs

Wydawnictwo: Knopf
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szczegółowe informacje
tytuł oryginału
A gate at the stairs
ISBN
978-0375409288
język
angielski
dodał
buhaha

The narrator of “Stairs” is one Tassie Keltjin, who is looking back on her 20th year. Having grown up on a small Midwestern farm, Tassie has never taken a taxi or an airplane, never eaten Chinese food, never seen a man wear jeans with a tie. Though her brother, Robert, who is desultorily thinking of joining the military, looks up to her as a focused, sure-footed college girl, she thinks of...

The narrator of “Stairs” is one Tassie Keltjin, who is looking back on her 20th year. Having grown up on a small Midwestern farm, Tassie has never taken a taxi or an airplane, never eaten Chinese food, never seen a man wear jeans with a tie. Though her brother, Robert, who is desultorily thinking of joining the military, looks up to her as a focused, sure-footed college girl, she thinks of herself as lost, as lacking the ambitions of friends (“marriage, children, law school”) and lacking an internal gyroscope that might lend ballast to her plans.

Enrollment at a small, liberal-minded Midwestern college (where political correctness is de rigueur, and students can take courses in things like wine tasting, war-movie soundtracks and Pilates) has made Tassie feel as if she’d been led out of a cave into “a brilliant city life of books and films and witty friends.”

School has set her brain “on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir,” and life in the university town of Troy has exposed her to the sophisticated ideas and ridiculous chatter of academic elites, who talk about things like animal rights and “the holocaust of chickens,” and who describe education as an essentially “white” and “female” enterprise.

It’s Tassie’s part-time job as a nanny for a middle-aged couple, however, that will irrevocably alter her apprehension of the world. Sarah Brink runs a fancy restaurant called Le Petit Moulin, and her husband, Edward, is a cancer researcher. They have moved to Troy from the East and have just submitted adoption papers for a 2-year-old, mixed-race girl they have named Mary-Emma.

Tassie bonds with the little girl almost immediately, and when neighbors see them together, they often assume that she is the child’s unwed mother. Soon Tassie’s days have settled into a pleasant rhythm of classes, afternoon walks and play sessions with Mary-Emma, and evening dates with a handsome classmate named Reynaldo, who says he is from Brazil.

Neither Reynaldo nor Sarah and Edward turn out to be who they say they are: revelations that Ms. Moore does a clumsy job of orchestrating (and in the case of Reynaldo, an absurd job of suggesting who he really is). In the hands of most writers such fumbles would instantly derail their story lines, but Ms. Moore is so deft at showing the fallout these discoveries have on her heroine that the reader speeds easily over the narrative bumps.

The lessons for Tassie, it turns out, have less to do with trust and betrayal than with the unforeseen costs of emotional inattention and romantic infatuation. She learns how bereavement can render one “passive, translucent and demolished”; how the accumulation of bad luck can strafe a person “to the thinness of a nightgown”; how love — for a man, a child, a sibling — fails to offer insulation from the calamities of everyday life.

 

źródło opisu: Michiko Kakutani -New York Times

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