Sunday, January 12, 2014

Digging to America

2006, 2007 Random House edition
Anne Tyler
Digging to America
Original price $14.95, purchase price 75 cents
Very worn paperback

Just as Snicket's End isn't about wrapping up the Baudelaire saga, this book isn't, as you might think at first, about foreign adoption.  It's not even about what it's like to be Iranian-American in the period a few years before to a few years after 9/11.  It's mostly about how an aloof woman in late middle age learns to love and accept people she initially finds annoying.  As such, it's not bad, and Tyler (whose late husband was Iranian) makes Maryam Yazdan sympathetic, if not exactly likable.  She's less successful with the other characters, but even bossy Bitsy wins Maryam and the reader over a bit by the end.

This is Tyler's seventeenth novel, and the thirteenth and last I'm reviewing, although she's published a couple since.  In my opinion, she never became a great writer, but she is at times a good one.  She at least has come a long way since 1964's If Morning Ever Comes, although what I said of that novel, "In particular, I can't understand why any of the characters make the decisions about romance they do, including Ben Joe's elopement with an ex-girlfriend.  So much of who ends up with whom feels arbitrary, and not in an ironic Jane Austen sort of manner," is just as applicable to this one.

This finishes off not only Anne Tyler and 2006, but the current bookcase, which began with Atwood's Robber Bride (1993).

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