BookPage interview by Alden Mudge. It's not as if Anne Tyler's life is a closed book. Curious readers can find year-old interviews with her on the Internet.
Rate this book. Buy This Book. The moment Pauline, a stranger to the Polish Eastern Avenue neighborhood of Baltimore though she lived only twenty minutes awaywalked into his mother's grocery store, Michael was smitten.
Anne Tyler is a formidably skilful storyteller, with every narrative trick at her effortless command. Her latest novel, like its predecessors, is concerned with the minutiae of everyday life. The Amateur Marriage opens insoon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and ends 60 years later, with America once again in shock following the uniquely horrible destruction of the World Trade Centre.
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The plot concerns the marriage of Michael Anton and Pauline Barclay, who meet when he tends to her bloodied brow in his family's grocery store, located in a primarily Eastern European enclave in Baltimorein December They marry after Michael is discharged from the Army with a permanent injury caused by a deliberate shot from someone he assaulted. Michael and Pauline settle in a small apartment above the store, but their widely different temperaments and expectations quickly create dissension in the relationship.
What is noticeable about the narrative voice in the first chapter? Whose voice is this meant to be? How does the presence of Mrs.
Because Tyler writes with scrupulous accuracy about muddled, unglamorous suburbanites, it is easy to underestimate her as a sort of Pyrex realist. Yes, Tyler intuitively understands the middle class's Norman Rockwell ideal, but she doesn't share it; rather, she has a masterful ability to make it bleed. Her latest novel delineates, in careful strokes, the year marriage of Michael Anton and Pauline Barclay, and its dissolution.
Anne Tyler is a great writer and in a great rut. Though her considerable British following will pounce on The Amateur Marriage, only the hard core of fans, for whom she can do no wrong, will be satisfied. By the standards of her best work, the new novel is perfunctory.
Michael and Pauline seemed like the perfect couple - young, good-looking, made for each other. The moment she walked into his mother's grocery store in Baltimore, he was smitten, and in the heat of World War II fervour, they marry in haste. From the sound of the cash register in the old grocery to the counter-culture jargon of the sixties, from the miniskirts to the multilayers of later years, we watch their lives unspool and see the consequences of their very mismatched marriage.
INwhen Fanny Trollope published her travel book ''Domestic Manners of the Americans,'' one reviewer called it a ''spiteful, ill-considered and mischief-making book. Tyler's last three novels have focused, even more than her best-known ones like ''Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant'' and ''The Accidental Tourist,'' on domestic dislocations. In ''Ladder of Years,'' Delia Grinstead, on what looks like a whim, leaves her husband and children, finding a new place and a new identity; Barnaby Gaitlin, the divorced father in ''A Patchwork Planet,'' has a whimsical indisposition to settle down anywhere; and Rebecca Davitch, the year-old grandmother in ''Back When We Were Grownups,'' is introduced as ''a woman who discovered that she had turned into the wrong person. Jane Austen's comic novels end in marriage; Tyler's bittersweet one begins with the marriage of her two ''amateurs,'' Michael Anton and Pauline Barclay, who are thrown together when Pauline is brought into the Anton grocery store for treatment of a wound she's incurred jumping off a streetcar to join an enlistment parade.