The XX Factor

Introducing … Book of the Week

Today we introduce DoubleX ’s new book of the week feature. Each Friday, we will let you know about a book that turns us on in some way. It could be a book we love, a book that infuriates us, or a book that’s rich or exciting or eccentric or moronic in some interesting way. Usually, it will be a new book that just came out or is about to be published. Sometime it may be a classic or a classic reissued that seems suddenly relevant. Of course, we would love suggestions from you. Please send to .

Today’s recommendation is Lorrie Moore’s A Gate At the Stairs . This is a full-hearted recommendation, no fury. I have long admired Moore for her collections of short stories, in which she can perfectly capture a moment or mood. Moore is particularly good on disappointment, failed potential, and longing. Her novels, however, have always felt like short stories stretched thin. Not this one, though. Tassie Keltjin, the college-age heroine, is a familiar Moore type, alienated from both the ambitions and rebellions of her peers in her small, liberal arts college. It’s when she becomes nanny to a middle-aged couple with an adopted child that she learns about disappointment on a larger scale. Tassie, who narrates the novel, sounds too middle-aged herself sometimes. But Moore slows down her usual short story moments and makes the heartbreak real.