Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Winner of many writing awards (among them the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Times Magazine Best Book of the Year and National Book Critics Circle Award), Anne Tyler keeps a pretty low profile. Her novels, often about quirky families and individuals, have been both accused of being sentimental and celebrated for the magical way they dig deep into the lives of her fictional characters. Frequently noted is her unusual background. She grew up in Quaker communes and didn't use a telephone until she was an adolescent.  Since 1964 Ms. Tyler has written 20 books, most of them owned by the Monrovia Public Library.

Ms. Tyler’s first big book was Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, a story about three siblings, whose father has abandoned them, and their mother Pearl, a rigid and harsh woman who pretends that nothing is wrong. As the two brothers and one sister become older, each experiences life differently because they never truly had a family.  Like Dinner, The Accidental Tourist is set in Baltimore and also pivots on unhappy events. Writer Macon Leary loses his son to a tragic crime, he and his wife break up and then he moves back into his family home where his eccentric brothers and sister alphabetize their groceries. When Macon meets a woman the total opposite of his classy, educated former wife, he learns to accept love. In both these uplifting books, which are reader favorites, the element of healing glows brightly.

Tyler’s newest 2015 book is again about disconnected family life. In A Spool of Blue Thread, longtime couple Red and Abby cope with their son Denny who holds them and his siblings at arm’s length. When the parents grow old and need caregiving, the rest of the family regards Denny as an irresponsible and prodigal son. As in all Tyler books, there is poignant emotion and gentle humor.

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