Discovering the simply wonderful writer that is Anne Tyler is something I consider an achievement. Plenty of times I tell myself how lucky I am that her works have found their way to my bookshelf. Whenever I finish one, I would scour the internet for reviews, write-ups, anything that can also share in my fascination of her. Unfortunately there aren’t so many – at least not enough to suit my taste – so I thought, if I truly admire this writer, why don’t I celebrate her myself?
Why has she struck me so, I often wonder.
For one, it might be her easy language. Although I’m a lover of classics, sometimes old English can get a little overwhelming, so it’s a relief to relax in a book that is not only profound but also simple. Oftentimes, we overlook the great depth that simplicity holds.
Anne Tyler is also known for her ordinarily unique characters and her calm plots with no epic quests to fulfill. One simply fundamental scenario that I can never forget is from The Amateur Marriage (my first Tyler book, as it happens) wherein the main character, Pauline, after having dinner with her children, grabbed a sponge from the sink, ran it under the faucet for a while, and wiped down the table taking care to catch the crumbs in her other hand. It was not an extraordinary scene – no hero fell from his steed and defeated the evil dragon on foot. It was just a snippet of everyday life and it touched me so.
Of course it is my wish to complete my Anne Tyler book collection. While it is easy to find copies of her popular works like The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, it is a challenge to find the earlier published ones so I have been on the lookout for Earthly Possessions and Celestial Navigation. Just a few weeks ago, my heart skipped a beat when I found a new edition of If Morning Ever Comes so it is a comfort to know I have that waiting for me on my bookshelf.
What’s more, her newer works, Half-Truths and Semi-Miracles, Clock Dance, and Redhead by the Side of the Road, are not within my reach yet so the hunt is still on. I sure pray Anne Tyler will have more years so she could gift us with more novels.
Have you read any of her books? If you haven’t, here are some passages which I hope could lead you on.
“Funny how you have to picture losing a thing before you think you might value it after all.” -Anne Tyler, Vinegar Girl
“Coziness, that must be what the world was all about.” -Anne Tyler, A Slipping Down Life
“For years, she had been in mourning for the way she had let her life slip through her fingers. Given another chance, she’d told herself, she would take more care to experience it. But lately, she was finding that she had been experiencing it after all and just forgotten, now it was returning to her.” –Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread
“Bravest thing about people, Miss Joan, is how they go on loving mortal beings after finding out there’s such a thing as dying.” -Anne Tyler, The Tin Can Tree
“If he ever came back it would be dimly, for only a second, in the company of others whose parts in her life were finished.” -Anne Tyler, The Clock Winder