Childcare by Lorrie Moore is hands down the best New Yorker story I’ve read this year. It’s consistently surprisingly, deft and clever in its dialogue, descriptions and characterizations, and just damn fun to read. I actually found myself dreading reaching the end, knowing that no matter when it happened it would be too soon. The story is about a midwestern college student with the unusual moniker of Tassie Keltjin. She’s interviewing for babysitting (“childcare”) gigs to support herself during her upcoming winter term when her inquiries lead her to one Sarah Brink, a working woman in her 40’s who has decided to adopt. Sarah makes it clear she will actually be adopting two people: first, the as-yet-unborn child (of a spunky young woman on parole, whom we eventually meet), and second, the caretaker she is looking to hire. Both will be integral parts of her expanding family.
Moore does a great job fleshing out Tassie’s easy-going midwestern demeanor, and the homely small-townness she finds herself (still) growing up in is truthfully rendered. Tassie’s own observations of Sarah are subtle and more knowing than she realizes, and there’s a wonderful interplay between the two as we begin to wonder whether Tassie may in fact be observing a future version of herself.
Moore’s Wikipedia entry indicates she has a new novel coming out in the fall, Gate at the Stairs, which this story may or may not be an excerpt from. Either way, I’m looking forward to reading more of her stuff. Bravo!