Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis in 1941 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University, and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. She has published seventeen books. Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Tyler is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
This biography was last updated on 12/28/2010.
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An Interview With Anne Tyler About Patchwork Planet
protagonist in this novel, Barnaby Gaitlin, has been described as an average,
ordinary man. Is this how you would describe him?
I think Barnaby is average and ordinary only to the extent that most people are average and ordinary--that is, not very, if you look carefully enough.
Barnaby is, among other things, a man struggling to cast off the weight of his past. How successful is he, and indeed any of us, in doing so?
I do believe that Barnaby is at least largely successful in getting out from under the weight of his past--that's where the plot derives its movement.
At the close of this novel, we are left wondering just exactly who is Barnaby's angel. How would you answer this question?
Barnaby has not just one but many angels--the network of people he lives among who see him for the good man he is and wish him well and do what they can to ease his life.
You delightfully skewer class pretensions in this novel, most notably in the form of Barnaby's mother, Margot, and explore the cost and meaning of class mobility in America. Why is this such a central theme in your work?
I've always enjoyed studying the small clues ...
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