Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Slipping Down Life - by Anne Tyler

A Slipping-Down Life

I picked this book up at Traveler Restaurant in Union, Connecticut. If you are traveling on Rt. 84 between Massachusetts and Connecticut you can't miss the big sign that reads "Food and Books" from the highway. The food is typical diner fare - hearty and comforting, and you get a free (used) book with every meal. What more could a traveler ask for?

This book was one of Tyler's early works, first published in 1969. It takes place in Pulqua, North Carolina, rather than Baltimore, Maryland, where her later stories are set. It is the story of dowdy Evie Decker, who spends her Saturday evenings at the Unicorn where she can hear Bertram "Drumstrings" Casey play his original  music. The two form a strange friendship, that eventually leads to an awkward marriage. Always low on cash, Evie takes a part-time job at the town library to supplement her husband's meager earnings. Tyler's description of the library, including a card catalog; rubber date stamps; a bespectacled librarian with an orange juice can pencil holder; and the "familiar library smells, [of] paste and buckram..."paints a real portrait of time and place.

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