(US, 1941– )
Tyler is a popular writer, hose novels about ordinary American families are fresh, funny, and sad. There is often a misfit in the family, whose point of view is explored and validated; Tyler has sympathy for a wide range of characters. A Slipping Down Life (1969) shows a teenage girl becoming obsessed with a local rock singer, and marrying him; the fatalism here, the sense of inevitability carrying people onwards towards unlikely ends, is present in all Tyler's novels. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982) tells the story of a family—single mother, two sons, and a daughter—from the children's early days to middle age, revealing the powerful connections, rivalries, and antagonisms between them and exploring each character's point of view. In Ladder of Years (1995) the heroine walks away from her husband and teenage children, and attempts to make a life on her own. For a while she finds herself in a housekeeping role to a divorcee and his son, but does eventually return to her own family; the insights gleaned along the way are bittersweet. The Accidental Tourist (1985) tells the story of a travel-guide writer who is addicted to routine, trying to cope with life after the loss of his son and departure of his wife. A Patchwork Planet (1998), narrated by black sheep Barnaby Gaitlin, sympathetically and humorously explores the world of old people as Barnaby does odd jobs for them; and offers insights into delinquency as a rejection of stifling materialistic attitudes. Tyler's dialogue always rings true, as do the settings and events of her novels; occasionally she is a touch sentimental.
Richard Ford, Carol Shields, Roddy Doyle. See UNITED STATES OF AMERICA JR