Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Anne Tyler
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

So it turns out that the only good story in Four Complete Novels is Morgan's Passing.  I'll get rid of this hardcover omnibus and get a paperback of Morgan's

While the writing in Dinner, particularly the imagery, is a great advance over the two mid-'60s novels, this contains what is probably the most unappealing family Tyler's yet come up with.  Father Beck abandons the family for 35 years, and mother Pearl is at best insensitive, at worst abusive.  Cody steals his sadsack brother Ezra's fiancĂ©e, but remains jealous of Ezra.  Only sister Jenny is at all appealing, and even she has serious issues.  The third generation don't seem quite as bad, but then we don't really get to know any of them except Luke, and there's a throwaway comment about Becky having "Anor Exia," so they're probably as screwed up as their elders.  When Beck returns, he tries to paper over the pain, and there's the sense that Tyler wants to give her characters a happy, or happy-ish, ending, but it just isn't believable.  The one thing I genuinely liked was the restaurant of the title, and I would've rather read more about that.  But Tyler here is not what Cody would call a feeder, preferring to starve readers this time.

Luckily, the next Tyler novel coming up is The Accidental Tourist in 1985....

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