Saturday, March 7, 2015

An Interview with novelist, Anne Tyler

Eleanor Wachtel recently interviewed Pulitzer Prize winning author, Anne Tyler, on the CBC's Writers & Company. I've read several of Tyler's novels and enjoyed them thoroughly, although I'd never heard the author interviewed before. Over the course of Tyler's career, she has granted few interviews, and so this was a rare treat.

Tyler spoke about her novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, and about some of her earlier works, such as Celestial Navigation and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (Tyler's 1985 novel, The Accidental Tourist, was a popular film starring William Hurt). A recurring theme of families appears throughout Tyler's work. What intrigues her about families is their propensity for conflict and drama and how they usually end up staying together.

I enjoyed the part where Tyler spoke about her upbringing in a Quaker household in Raleigh, North Carolina. She didn't enjoy being a child (in fact she hated it) because she wasn't in control of her life. She particularly disliked always being put into a car and driven somewhere and never knowing where she was going (most children can relate).

I would have liked to hear Tyler discuss her 1995 novel, Ladder of Years, one of my favourites. Ladder of Years tells the story of woman who deserts her family while they are on vacation, for no apparent reason. Most of the novel concerns itself with the narrator trying understand herself and find a purpose to her life aside from being a wife and raising children. As with many of Tyler's novels, the actual progression of events in this story is rather slow-moving and mundane, but the complexity and understanding that Tyler brings to her characters makes for a powerful narrative indeed.

All in all, this was a fascinating interview with one of the world's most talented - and one of my favourite - novelists. Here is the link to that interview: Writers & Company.


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