Jun 6, 2016


'Nearly all of her books are set in Baltimore, concern large families, marking time with the usual watersheds of family life — courtship, weddings, children, college, deaths. Observing her characters befuddled comings and goings with sympathy and dry humor, Tyler applies a little nudge here, a prompt there, letting out the occasional sigh of disappointment, as someone’s good intentions don’t quite pan out as planned.  I have read her wise, warm-hearted work — including Dinner at the Homseick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist and the Pulitzer-prize winning Breathing Lessons — religiously for over 20 years but I never thought we would meet.   She isn’t a recluse in the  Salinger mould, exactly — her novels bustle with too much gossip and life to give any impression other than one of supreme embededness — but she hasn’t given an interview in over 40 years. Then in 2012, she gave an interview to NPR to promote her novel The Beginner’s Goodbye. Others followed. Something seemed to have shifted in Tylerland. Some personal perestroika? A deep tectonic shift in the psychic-creative forces that govern literary careers? A kind of settling-up as she enters her eighth decade? Nothing of the sort, she says. Her editors just asked her and this time she thought: why not?  “I often wonder what would happen if I had Tolstoy around for tea,” she says gaily, while preparing coffee for me in her kitchen. “I’d probably have nothing to say to him.”  It’s like hearing that Gorbachev launched glasnost because he woke up one day and fancied a coke.  But then that is very Tyleresque, the long groove of routine disrupted by a sudden burst of to-hell-with-it impetuosity. A small dose of whimsy is detectable in late-period Tyler. ' — from my Sunday Times interview

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