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Anne Tyler Biography

(1941– ), If Morning Ever Comes, The Tin Can Tree, A Slipping-Down Life

life story novels family

American novelist, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina; she graduated from Duke University and undertook post-graduate research in Russian studies at the University of North Carolina. Tyler rejected her early novels, If Morning Ever Comes (1964) and The Tin Can Tree (1965), written in her early twenties, but with A Slipping-Down Life (1970) and The Clock Winder (1972) she earned a reputation as a skilful novelist working in the Southern mode perfected by Carson McCullers. Tyler disclaims any Southern influences except that of Eudora Welty, who taught her to recognize the importance of the seemingly mundane in fiction. In further novels, she continued to paint domestic interiors and portray family life, though on a wider canvas and with more intensity. Celestial Navigations (1974) tells the story of an artist through the varied perspectives of the women in his life; Searching for Caleb (1976) chronicles four generations of the eccentric Peck family; Earthly Possessions (1977), one of Tyler's most unusual novels, is the first-person account of the journey of a woman held hostage by a bank robber on the run; Morgan's Passing (1980) tells the story of the adventures of a likeable misfit. With Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982) she established herself as the leading literary voice of the urban South. One of her most compelling works, the novel is the story of the two sons and one daughter of an abandoned mother, employing the viewpoint of all its characters. The Accidental Tourist (1985) repeated the formula perfected in early novels, focusing on the figure of a male misfit and his loves; it was extremely successful, and was made into a film. Breathing Lessons (1989; Pulitzer Prize) recounts a day in the life of a woman whose wish to transform the lives of family and friends entangles her in lies, deceit, and petty disasters. Saint Maybe (1991) tells the story of yet another misfit whose guilty involvement in the undoing of his family leads him to charismatic Christianity and doomed attempts at expiation. Ladder of Years (1995), described by Joyce Carol Oates as Tyler's most conventional novel so far, is the story of a married woman who leaves her life of boredom to find herself unequipped for an autonomous existence; she returns to her discarded past.

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