Anne Tyler as Novelist by Dale Salwak

By Dale Salwak

Essays talk about every one of Tyler's novels and consider her subject matters, kind, plots, and characters.

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One community member was the County Bookmobile librarian; she'd drop off books she thought we'd like at each house as she walked through the community on her way home from work. " Crafts were very much a part of the community's life and several residents, Mrs. Tyler notes, belonged to the Southern Appalachian Handicrafts Guild. Home gardens were very important and Anne Tyler's father always had an especially successful one. Perhaps the goat-raising phase in the lives of Duncan and Justine Peck (in Searching for Caleb) stems from Tyler's early years at Celo.

Echoes and reflections from this study may well thread their way into Tyler's fiction in conscious and unconscious ways. The opening sentence of Anna Karenina provides a paradigm of sorts for all of Tyler's fiction. " 42 The characters in Tyler's fictionfrom the Hawkes family in If Morning Ever Comes (1964) to the Bedloes in Saint Maybe (1991)bear out the truth of individual unhappiness within the family. Yet these same families, however strained and fractious, do somehow survive. As Petry discusses in her "Overview," Tyler's long interest in the Russian authors suggests that Chekhov and Turgenev, especially, have provided important elements for her, both in technique and in character types.

Conflict with memory causes Ben Joe to struggle, also. Unable Page 19 to realize "a thing's happening or a moment's passing," Ben Joe is beset with the problem of recognizing change. Like Macon Leary in The Accidental Tourist, he resists change because it is too disruptive, yet he cannot deny it. Memory's ability to grant permanence to the past and his family's tendency to avoid discussing any event which disrupts the normal pattern of their daily lives serve only to exacerbate Ben Joe's condition.

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