A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
Twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, the daughter of a gentleman farmer, has come to a university town as a student. When she takes a job as a part-time nanny for a mysterious and glamorous family, she finds herself drawn deeper into their world and forever changed.
What an absolutely colossal waste of my time. The praise that has been written for this book, the five-star, one-sentence reviews printed on the back and front, the people who loved it! Why?!
Moore gives us pointless, grandiose, utterly irrelevant prose, holding her sparse plot points together like blu-tack that's just been urgently removed from a dog's mouth. Her philosophy, her social commentary, her embarrassing attempt at embodying a college student, were all just so trite and dull. As I neared the end of the novel, I started to speed-scan paragraphs, then pages; I missed the grand total of nothing.
Our protagonist was one of the worst I have ever seen in literature. Had I known her in real life, I'm not sure I'd be able to curtail my violent streak. A complete wisp of magnolia trying to be somebody with deep thoughts, but failing miserably with thoughts that would send anyone into an early grave of boredom. She coasts through this story, never having any impact on her own life, nor or the life of others, despite being given ample opportunity. She uses a vibrator to stir her chocolate milk. She takes a single book of poetry on holiday. She goes out with a Brazilian and thinks she's multicultural. I hated her.
None of the characters were believable, or even likeable, and spoke in ways no one in this world speaks. They spoke like characters conjured up for a pseudo-hipster indie movie that only indie pseudo-hipsters want to see. I cringed violently and often as they expressed their exasperating opinions and desires.
Despite being contrived, clumsy, and irrevocably colourless, Moore has taught me two things here; do not trust the opinions of others, and do not continue to waste your time with hopeless literary crap such as this.