I fell in love with Anne Tyler’s books in the mid-80s when she was sort of new on the scene. The Accidental Tourist was my gateway book to her writing. I went on to adore the movie of it, too. When it came out I was in Peace Corps and a friend back home went all the way to the post office for an Aerogram [those flimsy blue air mail letters without an envelope] to tell me, knowing I would want to know (truly!) that in the movie Edward was a tri-color corgi! That is what a best friend is for. Anne Tyler writes books like a best friend, albeit a best friend with incredible literary talent. I thought I had read that Clock Dance was to be here final book (she is 76), but I could be wrong judging by this New York Times article.
Willa is a shy woman who does what she can to avoid upsetting people. The story is told chronologically thru her life in large intervals–childhood, marriage, etc. Her “current day” life is the main story. A chance call by a stranger who reads her number off a neighbor’s phone list send Willa and her grumbling, controlling, husband, Peter, on a cross-county flight from Tucson to Baltimore to care for a child who is not related to either of them.
While Peter gripes and grouses and annoys people, Willa finds fulfillment in as eclectic a community as Tyler has ever created. Cheryl and Airplane, “Sir Joe,” Ben, Cali, and Willa’s son’s ex-girl friend, Denise (the reason for the phone call) are a as interesting and as average as any people on any street in America, but they find in Willa what they’ve needed: unconditional love, caring and listening. Then, just as I thought the world’s meekest woman would disappoint, she surprised.
Lots of people are saying this isn’t as good as her book X [each reviewer has a personal favorite]. I thought the title was just “off”–yes I “got it,” (it’s in the book), but I didn’t think it was “right” for the book. I also think she did seem to go a bit too far with the meekness, but why quibble? It turned out exactly right! Note: I listened to the audio book. I learned of this book from this blog post: http://www.book-chatter.com/?cat=214
Clock Dance : A Novel by Anne Tyler