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Review: Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

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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.

The Story

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.

My Verdict

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

3.75 Stars

Clock Dance : A Novel by Anne Tylerclockdsnz

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3 Bestsellers That Live Up to the Reviews

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This book comes just a hair’s width from being a perfect 5 out of 5. It’s that good. In fact, I may look back and give it five stars later, we’ll see.

When a son asks why he didn’t know certain parts of his mother’s history, she says simply “Men tell stories, women get on with it.”  In World War II many, many women had to just “get on with it” and afterwards they just wanted to forget, but couldn’t.

When a mother must keep her children safe she does what has to be done until she cannot take it any more. When a rebel cannot change her ways but suddenly her ways are what the world needs she performs beyond anyone’s expectations.

When that one true love is found it is enough.

This book just simply blew me away! Wow, what a fabulously told story. Just read it.  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

vinegar girl

 

Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors–her books simply never disappoint. Vinegar Girl is no exception. This retelling of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew delivers on every level. I listened to the audio which was tremendous–giving hapless Pyotr an authentic voice with the authentic accent.

When a live-at-home daughter reaches a certain age (29) a father gets worried, but doesn’t want to part with her. Then a problem occurs that can be solved by this very daughter leaving. Yet instead of solving the problem and keeping her home……No spoilers. This is a delightful family comedy and delightful romance. I think this will remain one of my favorite Tyler novels forever. I adored Pyotr! So much to love in this little book. Another Just Read It. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler.

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Predictably, this one is taking the business world by storm. And it should. People who think outside the box, who ignore the norm, who apologize later rather than seeking permission first often solve big problems well.  That many also happen to be introverted is, to my introverted mind, no accident. I found myself nodding and saying ‘yep’ and ‘you got that right’ all through this book.

Now if we could get education policy wonks and Phds in Ed Schools and other people trying to turn every kid into a soccer-playing, over scheduled, follow the lemmings extroverted upper-middle class suburban kid to read it and believe it.  Breaking the rules just isn’t always bad. We harp on and on about something called ‘critical thinking’ in schools, but don’t give the students any content to use in thinking. We also expect that thinking to be done in a 40 minute class period and in the way modeled by the one-time ‘Sage on the Stage’ who is now trying to become a ‘learning guide’ cum guru. Let the originals BE original. Let the lemmings go to soccer practice. World Saved. If only…

The Originals: How Non-conformists Move the World by Adam Grant.