A gate at the stairs
I had never heard of Lorrie Moore. The synopsis said it had something to do with post 911 America ( I am never hard bound on them) I think it was Nick Hornby's quote "The best American writer of her generation" that made me pick the book.
The book is about a 20 year old student Tassie who gets into a baby sitting job for a child who is adopted by a restaurateur-scientist couple. The child is African American but the couple are 'white'. A good half of the book deals with Tassie bonding deeply with the child Mary-Emma. The couple Sarah and Edward being into very packed schedules end up paying not much than lip service into rearing the child. Another thread through the book is of Tassie and her family who live in the country.
The book does not have any monumental twists or turns. It for that matter lacks any purpose. Its sort of hearing a narrative from a very sarcastic person about mundane events. There is an utter tone of pessimism through the book as the writer etches the coming to terms with a new child and Tassie's study breaks spent in the country side. But what surely impressed me was the wryness of the author which was scathing but somehow had a point.
Savour these :-
- Adoption seemed both a cruel joke and a lovely day dream - a nice way of avoiding the blood and pain of giving birth,or, from a child's perspective, a realised fantasy of your parents not being your parents.
- My brother's boy's life seemed lonely and hard to me. He still had one snaggletooth that poked out of his smile. This was because there had been enough orthodontia money for one of us, so it went to the daughter whose looks would matter(wasted on me! a smileless girl I felt no man would ever desire-not deeply)
- "Awesome" I said in that particular way, I knew, our generation had of finding that everything either "sucked" or was "awesome". We used awesome the way the British used brilliant: for anything at all. Perhaps, as with the British, it was a kind of antidepressant: inflated rhetoric to keep the sorry truth at bay.
- Would it have been so bad to have remained a colony of England? I wondered fiercely with every bang. Would it have been so terrible if every dessert was called a pudding even if it was a cake, to grow up saying "in hospital", to lose a few articles, to spell gray with an e, to resprinkle the r's, to have an idle king and an idle queen, and to put all the car steering wheels on the right? Well perhaps the steering wheels would be worth fighting for.
The book has a lot of conversations which leads to nothing. Makes you feel why is the writer dishing all this out? But then isn't that how life is too - aren't most conversations just a way to fill time? There is just one little snippet of anticipation - which lasts for 20 odd pages. Those are the pages where you are on the watchout for - what's going to happen next. Else most of the book is predictable.
I would recommend the book for enjoying the play of words. And for having a taste of pessimism bordering on funny. Would I recommend the book - maybe no. Do I regret reading it - no. A boo to the book but whoo hoo to the author.