18/05/2006

A Slipping-Down Life (by Anne Tyler)

I was a little disappointed with 'A Slipping-Down Life'. I usually find Anne Tyler's novels to be a little bizarre and caricatured, but enjoyable and thought-provoking nonetheless. She has an amazing eye for detail, and a great gift in portraying incidents with a touch of irony, and without excessive description.

Those traits were still true in this book, but I found the characters so unappealing that it was hard to relate to any of them. The main protagonist is a 17-year-old girl called Evie, who is a bit overweight, bland, and generally nondescript. It's set in the 1960s in the USA. Evie lives with her father and spends her time listening to the radio. She becomes interested in a local rock singer, takes her even more overweight friend Violet to listen to him at a club, and then does something completely out of character which changes her life.

The singer ('Drum' Casey) is rather a dead loss as a person, and the relationship, such as it is, which he develops with Evie is basically dull. Evie does grow up somewhat during the book, but Drum is so shallow and self-centred that it was hard for me to find anything good about him.

I finished the book - it was well-written, as always with this author, but the conclusion seemed to happen much too fast and left too many questions open.

Not really recommended.

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