Cover image for Anne Tyler : a critical companion
Anne Tyler : a critical companion
Bail, Paul.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xvi, 212 pages : portrait ; 25 cm.
1. The life of Anne Tyler -- 2. Literary influences on Anne Tyler -- 3. A slipping-down life (1970) -- 4. The clock winder (1972) -- 5. Celestial navigation (1974) -- 6. Searching for Caleb (1976) -- 7. Earthly possessions (1977) -- 8. Morgan's passing (1980) -- 9. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982) -- 10. The accidental tourist (1985) -- 11. Breathing lessons (1988) -- 12. Saint Maybe (1991) -- 13. Ladder of years (1995) -- 14. A patchwork planet (1998).
Reading Level:
1320 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3570.Y45 Z56 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Anne Tyler's novels strike a deep chord of responsiveness in her readers because her novels bring to life contemporary characters to whom we can instantly relate and in whose experiences we can see mirrored our own. Tyler's novels deal with the human experience: relationships between marital partners, between parents and children...between siblings; the meaning of love; the nature of identity; impermanence and change; and loss and continuity. In Anne Tyler novels, life is a complexity whose texture is built out of multiple layers. In this insightful study, Paul Bail shows us how Tyler constructs the complex reality of life through character, narrative point of view, theme, and literary devices. With the exception of Tyler's earliest two novels, which she prefers to forget, a chapter is devoted to each of the other novels she has written. Among the twelve are her unforgettable novels of family relationships and love...loss and renewal, such as Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant , The Accidental Tourist , and Breathing Lessons . Also included is an analysis of Tyler's most recent novel, A Patchwork Planet .

Following a biographical chapter that relates Tyler's life to her work, Bail discusses the novels within the literary tradition of Southern regional literature, women's literature, and popular culture. He also explores the influence of religion on her writing. Each novel is discussed in an individual chapter that includes sections on plot, characters, themes, literary devices, historical setting, and point of view. Bail also offers an alternate critical approach from which to read the novel, such as feminist or multicultural criticism. This study is ideal for students and readers of Anne Tyler and will enrich the reading and appreciation of her novels.

Author Notes

PAUL BAIL is the author of John Saul: A Critical Companion (Greenwood, 1996). He teaches graduate courses on cross-cultural psychology at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts. He holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. He has reviewed fiction for The Drood Review and was a contributor to Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary , edited by Kathleen Gregory Klein (Greenwood, 1994).

Table of Contents

Advisory Boardp. vii
Advisory Boardp. viii
Series Forewordp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
1 The Life of Anne Tylerp. 1
2 Literary Influences on Anne Tylerp. 13
3 A Slipping-Down Life (1970)p. 23
4 The Clock Winder (1972)p. 39
5 Celestial Navigation (1974)p. 51
6 Searching for Caleb (1976)p. 65
7 Earthly Possessions (1977)p. 77
8 Morgan's Passing (1980)p. 93
9 Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982)p. 107
10 The Accidental Tourist (1985)p. 119
11 Breathing Lessons (1988)p. 135
12 Saint Maybe (1991)p. 153
13 Ladder of Years (1995)p. 173
14 A Patchwork Planet (1998)p. 187
Bibliographyp. 195
Indexp. 207
About the Authorp. 213