Thursday, September 20, 2012

Anne Tyler - A Slipping-Down Life

I love Anne Tyler's books, and rarely let one go by unread.  Considering that, it is strange that I have written a review of only one book of hers, Breathing Lessons.  I found the book captivating.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1989.  The first Anne Tyler book I read was Searching for Caleb.  I have been hooked to her ever since.

Coming back to A Slipping-Down Life, the novel opens with Evie Decker a fat, unpopular teenager in Pulqua, North Carolina. She has one friend in school, Violet.  At home-between the busy housekeeper Clotelia and her father Sam Decker, who keeps to himself-Evie finds herself lonesome.  She listens to the radio a lot.  That is how she learns about Bertram Drumsticks Casey, who is a rock and roll singer who plays at the local nightclub, Unicorn.

Fat and frumpy Evie has no chance of catching the attention of Casey.  On an impulse, after a performance of his, she cuts his name upon her forehead.  Casey's drummer and manager David thinks her little caper can win the fledgling band some publicity.  Things are looking up for all of them.  Evie is happy to be close to Casey, despite his discomfort at her presence.  David is happy things are working out for his band.  They soon get an offer to play in another fancy club a little way away.  Evie feels she should break with Casey now, as he refused to soften up to her.

Those were the only times they met face to face.  They were the only times Evie lost the feeling that she was tugging at Drum's sleeve while he stood with his back to her, gazing outwards toward something she couldn't see.
 Just when Evie wants to give up on Casey, he fails.  He is kicked out of the new nightclub because he flirted with the owner's daughter.  His father wants nothing to do with him, and his mother is also angry with him.  Evie finds him on her porch, beaten and tired with nowhere else to go.  She finds her heart melting for him once again.

...when he suddenly tightened his arms around her, pulling her close, it came as a surprise.
 "Don't fret, I'm here," he said.
 But such promises are rarely kept.  A slipping-down life takes a look at two teenagers, both losers in their own way, as they try to make a life together.

Another beautiful little novella by Anne Tyler, just 154 pages long, about life in a small town, with its limited choices, that makes its inhabitants behave in an odd fashion at times.  Anne Tyler has a knack of making commonplace look so attractive.  Her books are almost always winners, and so is this one.

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