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Tyler, Anne 1941-

Tyler, Anne 1941-


Born October 25, 1941, in Minneapolis, MN; daughter of Lloyd Parry (a chemist) and Phyllis (Mahon) Tyler; married Taghi Modarressi (a psychiatrist and writer), May 3, 1963 (died, 1997); children: Tezh, Mitra. Education: Duke University, B.A. (Russian), 1961; graduate study at Columbia University, 1961-62. Religion: Society of Friends (Quaker).


Home—222 Tunbridge Rd., Baltimore, MD 21212. Agent—Russell & Volkening, Inc., 50 W. 29th St., New York, NY 10001.


Writer. Duke University Library, Durham, NC, Russian bibliographer, 1962-63; McGill University Law Library, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, assistant to librarian, 1964-65.


PEN, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Authors Guild, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Phi Beta Kappa.

Awards, Honors

Mademoiselle award for writing, 1966; Award for Literature, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1977; National Book Critics Circle fiction award nomination, 1980, Janet Heidinger Kafka prize, 1981, and American Book Award nomination in paperback fiction, 1982, all for Morgan's Passing; National Book Critics Circle fiction award nomination, 1982, American Book Award nomination in fiction, PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, and Pulitzer Prize nomination for fiction, all 1983, all for Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant; National Book Critics Circle fiction award, and Pulitzer Prize nomination for fiction, both 1985, both for The Accidental Tourist; Pulitzer Prize, 1988, for Breathing Lessons.



Tumble Tower, illustrated by daughter, Mitra Modarressi, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Timothy Tugbottom Says No!, illustrated by Mitra Modarressi, Putnam's (New York, NY), 2005.


If Morning Ever Comes, Knopf (New York, NY), 1964.

The Tin Can Tree, Knopf (New York, NY), 1965, reprinted, Fawcett Columbine (New York, NY), 1996.

A Slipping-Down Life, Knopf (New York, NY), 1970.

The Clock Winder, Knopf (New York, NY), 1972.

Celestial Navigation, Knopf (New York, NY), 1974.

Searching for Caleb, Knopf (New York, NY), 1976.

Earthly Possessions, Knopf (New York, NY), 1977, reprinted, Fawcett Columbine (New York, NY), 1996.

Morgan's Passing, Knopf (New York, NY), 1980, reprinted, Fawcett Columbine (New York, NY), 1996.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1982, reprinted, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2005.

The Accidental Tourist (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1985, reprinted, ImPress (New York, NY) 1999.

Breathing Lessons (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1988.

Anne Tyler: Four Complete Novels (contains Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Morgan's Passing, The Tin Can Tree, and If Morning Ever Comes), Avenel Books (New York, NY), 1990.

Anne Tyler: A New Collection (contains The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, and Searching for Caleb), Wings Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Saint Maybe (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1991.

Ladder of Years (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.

A Patchwork Planet (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1998.

A Patchwork Planet, Ladder of Years, Saint Maybe: Three Complete Novels, Bright Sky Press (Albany, TX), 2001.

Back When We Were Grownups, Knopf (New York, NY), 2001.

The Amateur Marriage, Knopf (New York, NY), 2004.

The Tin Can Tree, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2005.

Digging to America, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.


(Editor, with Shannon Ravenel, and author of introduction) Best American Short Stories 1983, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1983.

(Editor, with Shannon Ravenel) Best of the South: From Ten Years of "New Stories from the South," Algonquin Books (Chapel Hill, NC), 1996.

(Editor, with Shannon Ravenel) Best of the South: From the Second Decade of "New Stories from the South," Algonquin Books (Chapel Hill, NC), 2005.

Contributor of short stories, poetry, and articles to many periodicals, including Saturday Evening Post, New Yorker, Seventeen, Critic, Antioch Review, and Southern Review.


A film adaptation of The Accidental Tourist, starring Kathleen Turner and William Hurt, was released by Warner Brothers, 1988; it was also recorded as a book on tape by Recorded Books, 1991. Breathing Lessons was adapted for film by Robert W. Lenski and released by Republic Pictures, 1994. Back When We Were Grownups was adapted as a television film on the Hallmark Hall of Fame, 2004. A Slipping Down Life was adapted for film. Saint Maybe, Earthly Possessions, and Breathing Lessons were adapted for television. Tyler's other novels have been adapted as audiobooks, among them Digging to America, Knopf, 2006.


Best-selling novelist Anne Tyler's work has earned her what Detroit News reporter Bruce Cook called "a solid literary reputation … that is based solely on the quality of her books." The author of such award-winning novels as The Accidental Tourist and Breathing Lessons, Tyler has also created several picture-book texts in collaboration with her daughter, illustrator Mitra Modarressi. In his BookPage online article, Allan Mudge wrote that "what Tyler herself has always been particularly good at is depicting the fullness of life lived on a human scale. Her characters are not—and do not aspire to become—members of the glitterati or the literati.… Their dramas are the commonplace dramas of family and community life. Tyler's great art has been to illuminate her characters' lives with wry wit and insight, not to exalt them to some larger, brighter stage."

Born in Minnesota, Tyler lived in various Quaker communes throughout the Midwest and South before settling in the mountains of North Carolina for five years. She attended high school in Raleigh and at sixteen entered Duke University where she fell under the influence of Reynolds Price, then a promising young novelist who had attended her high school. It was Price who encouraged the young Russian major to pursue her writing, and she did—but it remained a secondary pursuit until 1967, the year Tyler and her husband settled in Baltimore. That city has served as the setting for many of her novels.

The key to Tyler's writing may well lie in the homage she pays to Eudora Welty, her favorite writer and one to whom she has been repeatedly compared. "Reading her taught me there were stories to be written about the mundane life around me," Tyler told Cook. As she phrased it to Marguerite Michaels in the New York Times Book Review, Welty's fiction "showed me that very small things are often really larger than the large things." Despite their resemblances to people we meet in real life, the quirky yet compelling characters in such novels as A Patchwork Planet, The Amateur Marriage, and Digging to America, are entirely fictitious. "None of the people I write about are people I know," she told Michaels. "That would be no fun. And it would be very boring to write about me. Even if I led an exciting life, why live it again on paper? I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances."

In her American Book Award-winning novel Morgan's Passing, for example, Tyler studies a forty-two-year-old hardware store manager with a knack for assuming other roles. A Patchwork Planet introduces a likeable ne'er-do-well who, as a teen, enjoyed breaking into other people's houses, not so much as a thief but to go through family mementos and pry into other peoples' lives. Other all-too-human characters people such novels as Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, and Saint Maybe.

One of Tyler's most well-known novels, The Accidental Tourist combines the author's subtle, understated probing into human nature and her eye for comic detail. In the novel, Macon Leary writes travel guides for people who dislike traveling and prefer the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. Reviewers praised the novel's gently ironic humor and sympathetic, likable characters, Richard Eder writing in the Los Angeles TimesBook Review that while Leary "is an oddity of the first water, … we grow so close to him that there is not the slightest warp in the lucid, touching and very funny story of an inhibited man moving out into life."

In the Pulitzer Prize-winning Breathing Lessons the author examines the themes of marriage, love, and regret through a story of Maggie and Ira Moran. While on a trip to the funeral of an old friend, the couple reflects on their twenty-eight years together and, while both at times regret their decision to marry, they also recognize the strength of the bond between them. Called by Library Journal reviewer Starr E. Smith "a touching, well-crafted tale of friendship, families, and what it means to be an American," Digging to America follows two middle-class Baltimore families whose members build a relationship when they each adopt baby girls from another culture. According to Smith, Digging to America "exemplifies [Tyler's] skill at depicting seemingly quiet and unremarkable lives with sympathy and humor." Calling the book a "deeply human tale of valiantly improved lives," Donna Seaman added in Booklist that "each of Tyler's endearing characters is authentically rendered."

Focusing on the role of religion, Saint Maybe introduces Ian Bedloe, a well-adjusted teenager. Ian's family life changes drastically when his older brother, Danny, marries Lucy, a divorcee who has two children of her own. Danny commits suicide after the birth of his daughter, Daphne, and Lucy dies of an overdose of sleeping pills soon after. In the aftermath, Ian is left overcome with guilt for his own part in the family's tragedy. Seeking guidance from a fundamentalist sect led by the charismatic Brother Emmett, he is charged with caring for his brother's children as a penance for his connection with Danny's death. As New York Times Book Review contributor Jay Parini wrote of Saint Maybe, "in many ways it is Anne Tyler's most sophisticated work, a realistic chronicle that celebrates family life without erasing the pain and boredom that families almost necessarily inflict upon their members."

In addition to her novels for adults, Tyler has also produced several picture books for younger readers. Tumble Tower—which features illustrations by Tyler's daughter, Mitra Modarressi—is "a kid-pleasing story about Princess Molly the Messy and her royal family of neatnicks," according to Christian Science Monitor contributor Karen Williams. Unlike her compulsive parents and siblings, including Prince Thomas the Tidy, Molly lives a comfortably unkempt life. "The moral of Tyler's tale," declared Suzanne Curley in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, "is that a princess unfazed by half-eaten candy bars left under her chair cushions, kittens nesting among fluffy slippers on the closet floor or a bed 'all lumpy and knobby with half-finished books' probably has her priorities straight, and may have much to teach about the way clutter often goes hand-in-hand with coziness."

Another collaboration with Modarressi, Timothy Tugbuttom Says No! introduces a preschooler who, unlike

Molly, seeks structure. In fact, he avoids anything new, whether it is a new pair of jeans, a new food, or the new "big-boy" bed his parents have given him. Through a story that School Library Journal contributor Linda L. Walkins deemed "genuine, straightforward," and featuring a "warm, positive tone," Timothy encounters a situation that encourages him to welcome the changes growing up brings. "Youngsters who resist change will find a good example and a peer" in Timothy Tugbottom, according to a Kirkus Reviews writer, while Ilene Cooper wrote in Booklist that Tyler's "simple picture book … captures a habit of petulant preschoolers."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Book, Beth Kephart, May, 2001, review of Back When We Were Grownups, p. 63.

Booklist, November 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Timothy Tugbottom Says No!, p. 54; February 15, 2006, Donna Seaman, review of Digging to America, p. 7.

Chicago Tribune Book World, March 23, 1980; March 21, 1982; July 20, 1986.

Christian Century, July 4, 2001, L. Gregory Jones, "Living into Our Histories," p. 29.

Christian Science Monitor, September 25, 1991, Marilyn Gardner, review of Saint Maybe, p. 13; December 17, 1993, Karen Williams, review of Tumble Tower, p. 12; May 18, 1995, Suzanne L. MacLachlan, review of Ladder of Years, p. 13; May 3, 2001, Ron Charles, "Grandma Wonders If It's Ever Too Late," p. 21.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1995, p. 180; March 15, 2001, review of Back When We Were Grownups, p. 361; August 1, 2005, review of Timothy Tugbottom Says No!, p. 859; March 1, 2006, review of Digging to America, p. 207.

Library Journal, April 1, 2006, Starr E. Smith, review of Digging to America, p. 87.

Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1982; September 14, 1983.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 30, 1980; September 15, 1985; September 11, 1988; September 5, 1993, p. 9; May 7, 1995, p. 3.

New Statesman, April 4, 1975; December 5, 1980, Paul Binding, review of Morgan's Passing.

New Yorker, March 29, 1976; June 6, 1977; June 23, 1980, John Updike, review of Morgan's Passing, p. 95; April 5, 1982, John Updike, review of Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, p. 193; May 8, 1995, Tom Shone, review of Ladder of Years, pp. 89-90.

New York Review of Books, April 3, 1980, James Wolcott, review of Morgan's Passing, p. 34; January 16, 1992, Brad Leithauser, review of Saint Maybe, pp. 53-55.

New York Times, May 3, 1977; March 17, 1980, John Leonard, review of Morgan's Passing, p. C17; March 22, 1982, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, p. 21; September 3, 1988, Michiko Kakutani, review of Breathing Lessons, p. 13; April 27, 1995, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Ladder of Years, p. B2; May 18, 2001, Michiko Kakutani, review of Back When We Were Grownups, p. B3.

New York Times Book Review, November 22, 1964; November 21, 1965; March 15, 1970; May 21, 1972; April 28, 1974; January 18, 1976; May 8, 1977; March 14, 1982, Benjamin DeMott, review of Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, p. 1; September 8, 1985, Larry McMurtry, review of The Accidental Tourist, p. 1; August 25, 1991, Jay Parini, review of Saint Maybe, pp. 1, 26; May 7, 1995, Cathleen Schine, review of Ladder of Years, p. 12; April 19, 1998, Carol Shields, review of A Patchwork Planet, p. 12; May 20, 2001, John Leonard, review of Back When We Were Grownups, p. 14.

People, May 21, 2001, Linnea Lannon, review of Back When We Were Grownups, p. 51.

Saturday Review, December 26, 1964; November 20, 1965; June 17, 1972; March 6, 1976; September 4, 1976; March 15, 1980, Eva Hoffman, review of Morgan's Passing, p. 38.

School Library Journal, December, 1991, Katherine Fitch, review of Saint Maybe, pp. 149-150; October, 2005, Linda L. Walkins, review of Timothy Tugbuttom Says No!, p. 131.

Time, May 9, 1977; March 17, 1980; April 5, 1982, R.Z. Shephard, review of Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, p. 77; September 16, 1985, R.Z. Sheppard, review of The Accidental Tourist, p. 78.

Times Literary Supplement, July 15, 1965; May 23, 1975; December 9, 1977; October 31, 1980; October 29, 1982; October 4, 1985; January 20, 1989.

Washington Post, May 20, 2001, Alice McDermott, review of Back When We Were Grownups, p. T03.

Washington Post Book World, March 16, 1980; April 4, 1982; September 4, 1988.

World and I, August, 1998, Linda Simon, review of A Patchwork Planet, p. 274.


BookPage, (September 28, 2006), Allen Mudge, "Mismatched Mates, Anne Tyler Explores the Dramas of Everyday Family Life" (interview)., (September 28, 2006), Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum, review of The Amateur Marriage.

Literary Review Online, (August 5, 2001), Gill Hornby, "A Man You Can Trust."

Metroactive Books Online, (June 25, 1998), Jonelle Bonta, "Screwball."

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Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler (born 1941) is considered one of America's most important living writers. Her works evince familiarity with an extended literary tradition, with influences ranging from Emerson and Thoreau to Faulkner and Welty.

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941; her family moved frequently, generally living in Quaker communities in the Midwest and South, before settling in North Carolina. Tyler attended Duke University, where she majored in Russian. In her first year, she became a pupil of Reynolds Price, who himself would become a major novelist and long-time friend. Price encouraged Tyler to pursue writing more vigorously, but she instead dedicated most of her attention to Russian. She graduated in 1961 then entered Columbia University to continue her studies. In 1962, she returned to Duke as Russian bibliographer for the library. The following year, Tyler married Taghi Modarressi, a psychologist from Iran. In 1964, the two moved to Montreal, where Tyler worked as an assistant librarian at McGill University Law School and wrote her first two novels If Morning Ever Comes (1964) and The Tin Can Tree (1965). In 1967, she and her husband moved to Baltimore, the setting for most of Tyler's subsequent novels. With the publication of A Slipping-Down Life (1970) and The Clock Winder (1972), Tyler began to receive more serious and positive critical attention, but only in the mid-seventies, when such writers as Gail Godwin and John Updike called attention to her, did her novels benefit from widespread recognition. Tyler's stature as an important literary figure was confirmed by the success of Morgan's Passing (1980), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle award and received the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Dinner at Homesick Restaurant (1982) won the PEN/ Faulkner Award for fiction and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award and the 1983 Pulitzer Prize. The Accidental Tourist (1985) and Breathing Lessons (1988) were honored respectively with a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize.

Throughout Tyler's novels, characters struggle to negotiate a balance between self-identity and family identity. In her first novel, If Morning Ever Comes, Ben Joe Hawkes returns home from law school because he could not concentrate; he worried what was happening at home while he was gone. The only man in a family of women, Ben feels he must play the role of substitute father. But after only a day back, he is oppressed with the responsibilities he at least partially imposes upon himself. In The Clock Winder, Elizabeth Abbot flees from the roles of gardener and "handyman" in her family, but she winds up acting out the same roles for another family, the Emersons. She tries to escape that family, too, but returns to be caregiver, wife, and mother. In a less traditional rebellion from conventional family roles, Evie Decker of A Slipping-Down Life protests her lot as an unattractive, overweight girl by carving the name of a rock musician into her forehead. The action makes her the center of popular attention, but she eventually marries the musician, whose career she has boosted; she ends up not merely as wife, but as an object of good publicity. Dinner at Homesick Restaurant, portrays the psychological suffering of abused children who cannot permanently leave the site of their abuse, the "homesick restaurant." The children relive the family dinners that were never finished. The novel suggests, much like Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, that the defining influence of family cannot be escaped. Tyler's more recent novels, while dealing with psychologically suffering characters, have been slightly less pessimistic. The Accidental Tourist, the movie version of which helped make Tyler an even more well-known name, deals with the grief of Macon Leary—whose marriage collapses after the murder of his son. Like protagonists from Tyler's previous novels, Macon has a close yet ambivalent relationship with his brothers and sisters and must choose between lonely security and the uncertain comforts of human love. Critics find Tyler at the height of her powers of observation in Breathing Lessons, as she defines personality through small details and gestures and emphasizes the influence of a shared history on a marital relationship. Within a day-in-the-life framework augmented by flashbacks, she captures the nuances of compromise, disappointment, and love that make up Ira and Maggie Moran's marriage. The owner of a picture-framing store, Ira is uncommunicative and compulsively neat; Maggie is his warm, clumsy, talkative wife of nearly three decades. Intending to travel to Pennsylvania for a funeral on the Saturday morning of the novel's opening, and to return that afternoon, the couple spend most of the day on the road, making two extended sidetrips caused by Maggie's meddling in the affairs of strangers and relatives. Generously sprinkled with comic set-pieces that reveal her characters' foibles, Breathing Lessons has been called Tyler's funniest novel to date.

Tyler's first two novels received little critical attention; they were seen as slight works by an author who showed significant promise. Tyler herself has essentially disavowed her first novels. Tyler and critics alike viewed A Slipping-Down Life as an important point of development in her career as writer; the portrait of Evie was praised for its accurate depiction of loneliness and desperation. Most critics considered Tyler's fifth novel, Celestial Navigation, a breakthrough for her career. The praise of Gail Godwin and John Updike helped launch the book into further popularity, and with each successive novel, Tyler gained more respect not just as a writer with popular appeal but as a writer of literary importance. As her works began to receive nominations for major literary awards, however, Tyler came under more intense scrutiny from critics, some of whom argued that she too glibly mixed comedy with seriousness. After Dinner with Homesick Restaurant, though, few critics would deny her importance in contemporary fiction.

Further Reading

Bestsellers 89, Issue 1, Gale, 1989.

Binding, Paul, Separate Country: A Literary Journey through the American South, Paddington Press, 1979.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale, Volume 7, 1977; Volume 11, 1979; Volume 18, 1981; Volume 28, 1984; Volume 44, 1987; Volume 59, 1990.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Yearbook: 1982, 1983.

Evans, Elizabeth, Anne Tyler, Twayne, 1993.

Flora, Joseph M., and Robert Bain, Fifty Southern Writers After 1900: A Bio-Bibliographic Sourcebook, Greenwood Press, 1987, pp. 491-504.

Inge, Tonette Bond, editor, Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, University of Alabama Press, 1990. □

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Tyler, Anne


Nationality: American. Born: Minneapolis, Minnesota, 25 October 1941. Education: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 1958-61, B.A. 1961; Columbia University, New York, 1961-62. Family: Married Taghi Modarressi in 1963 (deceased 1997); two daughters. Career: Russian bibliographer, Duke University Library, 1962-63; assistant to the librarian, McGill University Law Library, Montreal, 1964-65. Awards: American Academy award, 1977; Janet Kafka prize, 1981; PEN Faulkner award, 1983; National Book Critics Circle award, 1986; Pulitzer prize, 1989. Agent: Russell and Volkening Inc., 50 West 29th Street, New York, New York 10001. Address: 222 Tunbridge Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21212, U.S.A.



If Morning Ever Comes. New York, Knopf, 1964; London, Chatto and Windus, 1965.

The Tin Can Tree. New York, Knopf, 1965; London, Macmillan, 1966.

A Slipping-Down Life. New York, Knopf, 1970; London, SevernHouse, 1983.

The Clock Winder. New York, Knopf, 1972; London, Chatto andWindus, 1973.

Celestial Navigation. New York, Knopf, 1974; London, Chatto andWindus, 1975.

Searching for Caleb. New York, Knopf, and London, Chatto andWindus, 1976.

Earthly Possessions. New York, Knopf, and London, Chatto andWindus, 1977.

Morgan's Passing. New York, Knopf, and London, Chatto andWindus, 1980.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. New York, Knopf, and London, Chatto and Windus, 1982.

The Accidental Tourist. New York, Knopf, and London, Chatto andWindus, 1985.

Breathing Lessons. New York, Knopf, 1988; London, Chatto andWindus, 1989.

Saint Maybe. New York, Knopf, and London, Chatto and Windus, 1991.

Ladder of Years. New York, Knopf, 1995.

A Patchwork Planet. New York, Knopf, 1998.

Uncollected Short Stories

"I Play Kings," in Seventeen (New York), August 1963.

"Street of Bugles," in Saturday Evening Post (Philadelphia), 30November 1963.

"Nobody Answers the Door," in Antioch Review (Yellow Springs, Ohio), Fall 1964.

"I'm Not Going to Ask You Again," in Harper's (New York), September 1965.

"Everything But Roses," in Reporter (New York), 23 September1965.

"As the Earth Gets Old," in New Yorker, 29 October 1966.

"Feather Behind the Rock," in New Yorker, 12 August 1967.

"Flaw in the Crust of the Earth," in Reporter (New York), 2November 1967.

"Common Courtesies," in McCall's (New York), June 1968.

"With All Flags Flying," in Redbook (New York), June 1971.

"Bride in the Boatyard," in McCall's (New York), June 1972.

"Respect," in Mademoiselle (New York), June 1972.

"Misstep of the Mind," in Seventeen (New York), October 1972.

"Knack for Languages," in New Yorker, 13 January 1975.

"Some Sign That I Ever Made You Happy," in McCall's (NewYork), October 1975.

"Your Place Is Empty," in New Yorker, 22 November 1976.

"Holding Things Together," in New Yorker, 24 January 1977.

"Average Waves in Unprotected Waters," in New Yorker, 28 February 1977.

"Foot-Footing On," in Mademoiselle (New York), November 1977.

"The Geologist's Maid," in Stories of the Modern South, edited by Ben Forkner and Patrick Samway. New York, Penguin, 1981.

"Laps," in Parents' Magazine (New York), August 1981.

"The Country Cook," in Harper's (New York), March 1982.

"Teenage Wasteland," in The Editors' Choice 1, edited by George E. Murphy, Jr. New York, Bantam, 1985.

"Rerun," in New Yorker, 4 July 1988.

"A Street of Bugles," in Saturday Evening Post (Indianapolis), July-August 1989.

"A Woman Like a Fieldstone House," in Louder than Words, edited by William Shore. New York, Vintage, 1989.


Tumble Tower (for children). New York, Orchard, 1993.

Editor, with Shannon Ravenel, The Best American Short Stories 1983. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1983; as The Year's Best American Short Stories, London, Severn House, 1984.

Editor, with Shannon Ravenel, Best of the South: From Ten Years of New Stories from the South. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1996.


Film Adaptations:

The Accidental Tourist, 1988.


Anne Tyler: A Bio-Bibliography by Robert W. Croft, Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1995.

Critical Studies:

Art and the Accidental in Anne Tyler by Joseph C. Voelker, Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1989; The Temporal Horizon: A Study of the Theme of Time in Anne Tyler's Major Novels by Karin Linton, Uppsala, Sweden, Studia Anglistica, 1989; The Fiction of Anne Tyler edited by C. Ralph Stephens, Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1990; Understanding Anne Tyler by Alice Hall Petty, Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 1990; Anne Tyler as Novelist, edited by Dale Salwak, Iowa City, University of Iowa Press, 1994; Moving On: The Heroines of Shirley Ann Grau, Anne Tyler, and Gail Godwin by Susan S. Kissel, Bowling Green, Ohio, Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1996; An Anne Tyler Companion by Robert W. Croft, Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1998; Anne Tyler: A Critical Companion by Paul Bail, Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1998.

* * *

Anne Tyler's novels do not create cosmic waves but have quietly and carefully, for over a third of a century, attempted to illustrate the struggle between asserting one's individual identity versus functioning in a role within the American middle-class family. Perhaps it is because Tyler seems to place such importance on the role of family or because her settings stay primarily around the city and suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland, or perhaps critics do not see her pushing the boundaries enough. In any case, despite a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for Breathing Lessons and a National Book Critics Circle Award, Tyler's work is chronically appreciated but not heralded by critics. Nevertheless, she is a prolific and popular writer. Her tendency to use humor to create colorful characters and place them into fairly ordinary circumstances has gained her a loyal readership and prompted comparisons to Eudora Welty, an American writer whose work she claims as an influence.

In Morgan's Passing, for instance, Morgan appears to be a well-adjusted family man. Inside, however, we discover he is struggling with what he sees as the madhouse he lives inthe goings on of his seven daughters and their friends are driving him over the edge. He attempts to cope through the use of costume and impersonation. Alternately, he becomes a tugboat captain, doctor, politician, clerk at a fish market, priest, and others. Morgan's home is not his haven, so he has to find shelter at his office at Cullen Hardware, and this refuge of changing identities within the world of work is reminiscent of Walter Mitty.

The quirky character in Breathing Lessons is Junie, Ira's sister. Like Jeremy in Celestial Navigation, Junie does not like to leave home. Ira's wife, Maggie, decides to help her break out of her shell by performing a makeover routine on her, from makeup to clothes. Like Morgan, Junie seems to draw courage from this disguised identity in the outside world. Unlike Morgan, however, Junie will only leave home with Ira at her side because as family, he represents a part of home going out with her.

In Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Ezra tries to create a family atmosphere at the restaurant that he feels is missing at home. In this novel, again there is a juxtaposition of the individual, the family, and the outside world of work and commerce. Tyler admits and demonstrates that the three do not always easily cohabit. In The Accidental Tourist, it takes another eccentric character, Muriel Pritchett, the dog trainer, to bring Macon Leary out of his sheltered world in which traveling is simply for business, not pleasure.

Delia Grinstead, in Ladder of Years, leaves her sheltered life in a much different way. If readers suspect Tyler is only capable of writing in a her self-established pattern, this novel marks a shift from the dependence on the quirky character device to an exploration of every family members' fantasywhat if I just walked right out that door and never came back? While at the beach, that is just what forty-yearold Delia does, finally settling in a small town in Delaware to find the self she never knew by living all of her adult life in the same house in which she grew up. As Tyler matures, so does her writing, and one wonders whether she may be one of the best chroniclers of the problems women born in mid-twentieth century America and living in the domestic sphere face in later life.

With A Patchwork Planet, Tyler returned to her familiar pattern, however. This time, she attempts to write from the point of view of Barnaby Gaitlin, a thirty-year-old loser who takes care of eccentric old people. In this novel, it is not so much a character from within a family doing the searching as it is a character without family searching for a home. While one wishes Tyler would venture out from her own protective sphere of character patterns, one cannot help but praise her for taking advantage of exploring what seems like every possible angle on the struggles of the individual inside and outside the shelter of home and family. Perhaps with the perspective of an elder spokesperson in the years ahead, she will offer new insights that only someone who has worked on a subject for many years can contribute to our understanding of this very ordinary, but vital aspect of the human condition.

Connie Ann Kirk

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"Tyler, Anne." Contemporary Novelists. . Retrieved January 17, 2018 from

Tyler, Anne

Anne Tyler, 1941–, American novelist, b. Minneapolis. Her witty and perceptive fiction, which is often set in the American South and frequently in and around Baltimore, portrays vivid contemporary characters involved in ordinary human life; she is particularly adept at depicting family relationships. Among her novels are A Slipping-Down Life (1970), Searching for Caleb (1975), Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982), The Accidental Tourist (1985), Breathing Lessons (1988; Pulitzer Prize), Saint Maybe (1991), Ladder of Years (1995), The Amateur Marriage (2004), Noah's Compass (2010), and The Beginner's Goodbye (2012).

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"Tyler, Anne." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 17 Jan. 2018 <>.

"Tyler, Anne." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (January 17, 2018).

"Tyler, Anne." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved January 17, 2018 from