Between the Lines Book Club: Anne Tyler

between the lines book club logoThis month we are reading Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler, for our Between the Lines Book Club. We will be discussing the book in person at Arden Dimick Library on May 20, 2017, at 10:30AM. Please note that we usually meet on the fourth Saturday of the month, but this month we are meeting on week early (May 20th).

Anne Tyler was raised in a small, rural Quaker community until she was eleven. When she and her family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, she felt like an outsider, a quality she brings to life in many of her books. As a graduate student in New York City, she loved riding trains and subways and writing descriptions of the people she encountered. Her first novel, If Morning Ever Comes, was published in 1964 (she hates it).

Tyler married an Iranian political refugee who was also a writer as well as a child psychiatrist (he died of lymphoma in 1997). In 1965 the newly married Tyler moved to Baltimore with her husband, where they had two children. Almost all of her novels written after this date are set in or near Baltimore, where she continues to live. She has published two children’s books and twenty novels.

Tyler is famous for her emphasis on family, quirky characters, and domestic life. In an interview in the Guardian, she responded to criticism of her work as being “milk and cookies.”

“For one thing I think it is sort of true. I would say piss and vinegar for Roth and for me milk and cookies. I can’t deny it.” She does however stress that there’s more “edge under some of my soft language than people realise. I don’t think I’m like one of those little old ladies where everything is so sweet that there’s no traction there.” She thinks Franzen is “an amazing writer”, but also “a little bit cruel to his characters. I didn’t like Patty and I wonder if I could have lived with her for however long it took him to write Freedom. It is probably that I just want to be with nice people, which sounds very milk and cookies, I know.”


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