Sunday 26 February 2012

More Anne Tyler

I always thought I would save literary festivals for when I retire but when I read that Anne Tyler will be attending the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival at Christchurch in April to receive an Outstanding Literary Achievement prize I couldn't resist ordering a ticket. If anyone else is planning to visit the festival do let me know and maybe we can meet for a latte!

Breathing Lessons is probably my favourite Tyler because of lovely Ira who is married to the infuriating Maggie. From the opening chapter where Maggie pulls out into the path of a Pepsi truck to the near-farcical scene at the races where Ira's obsessive sister lines up marshmallows along the seats of the bleachers, Breathing Lessons is a perfectly pitched comic novel and like the best comic novels it is sad, too. Tyler never intervenes to judge or comment on the actions of her characters she just lets the story unfold and the characters find their own solutions or compromises.

I also liked Noah's Compass. At the age of 60, Liam Pennywell is made redundant from his job as a high school lecturer. He moves to a smaller flat in a less desirable area of town and while asleep in bed is attacked and robbed. Waking in hospital he is infuriated that he remembers nothing of the crime or his assailant. He then meets and falls in love with a younger woman who works as a 'professional rememberer' for an elderly wealthy business man, remembering names and events on his behalf. What I particularly enjoyed about this novel was the character of his younger daughter, Kitty, who drifts in and out of his flat wearing a mirror 'the size of a dime' in her pierced naval and talking into a mobile phone so tiny he 'wonders how it can stretch between mouth and ear.'

I finished Back When We Were Grownups last night and now I really will make a start on Olive Kitteridge ...


Joan Hunter Dunn said...

Anne Tyler is one of the authors both Warmth & I enjoy reading, to the extent that when we combined our books we had duplicates of many of hers. You've reminded me that I wish to read another of her books this year. Enjoy the festival & listening to her voice.

lifeonthecutoff said...

I've wanted to read Back When We Were Grownups for so long and forget about it. I like that Anne Tyler

"never intervenes to judge or comment on the actions of her characters she just lets the story unfold and the characters find their own solutions or compromises."

We read Olive Kitteridge las year for our book group and had a good discussion on it.

I really appreciate this post. Enjoy listening to Tyler.

Anbolyn said...

So wonderful that you get to see Anne Tyler! I hope we get to hear all about it. You've persuaded me that I need to try her again. I have a copy of Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant on my shelf and plan to start it soon.

Penny said...

How exciting to be able to go and see/hear Anne Tyler! Hope you have a wonderful time!

I LOVED 'Noah's Compass' and have 'Back When We Were Grownups on the shelves. I haven't read any AT for ages, so it's time to remedy that, I think!

Vintage Reading said...

Joan, I will look out for your Tyler post. I am very much looking forward to seeing and hearing her.

life on the cuff, I enjoyed Back When We were Grownups but I wouldn't say it is her best. Breathing Lessons is my absolute favourite ... so far!

Anbolyn, I will certainly post about my Oxford trip. Hopefully some photos, too!

Penny, Noah's Compass was excellent I thought. Hope you can fit some more AT in this year!

Becca said...

I’ve just heard Anne Tyler has a new novel coming out this year, and I’m so ready for it! Love her work.

I think I’ll go re-reading Breathing Lessons in the meantime.