Two days ago I finished Lorrie Moore's astonishing new novel A GATE AT THE STAIRS, a book that somehow manages to be both funny, excoriating, and utterly wrenching. I feel like I've been on a deeply consuming, unpredictable ride, one that's still resonating with me. Here's one passage, a marvelous lyric flight in which the speaker, Tassie Keltjin, describes her erotic relationship -- her first -- with her boyfriend Reynaldo:
"Often we didn't talk at all. His arms were soft and strong. His penis was as small and satiny as a trumpet mushroom in Easter basket grass. His mouth slurped carefully as if every part of me were an oyster, his, which made me feel I loved him. He would pull away and look at me happily from above. 'You have the long, pettable nose of a horse,' he said, 'and a horse's dark, sweet eyes.' And I thought of all the horses I had seen and how they always seemed to be trying to get their eyes to focus and work together. Their eyes were beautiful but shy and lost, and since they were on opposite sides of their heads like a fish's, one of them would sometimes rear up in skepticism and fear and just take a hard look at you. I felt nothing like a horse, whose instincts I knew were to run and run. I had mostly in life tried to stand still like a glob of coral so as not to be spotted by sharks. But now I had crawled out onto land and was somehow already a horse."