Thursday, February 11, 2010

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler

Tyler, Anne. Noah's Compass. New York: Knopf, 2009.

Submitted by R. Stuhr

I was excited to see this in the South Bay train station in Boston and bought it to read on my six hour train trip. (See the previous post to learn that Anne Tyler is a favorite author of mine.) I didn't read it for the whole six hours, I needed to spend a fair amount of time looking out the window too. If you are familiar with Anne Tyler, this new novel will not disappoint and despite the familiar tone, it is a new story with fresh insight and new characters. A divorced and solitary father of two grown daughters and one teenage daughter finds himself unemployed. Thinking that he can pare his life down to the very minimum he leaves his elegant apartment in the middle of Baltimore and moves into a new characterless apartment in the county. He is attacked his first night in his new spartan apartment and winds up in the hospital with no memory of the attack. He becomes obsessed with trying to regain this lost piece of his life and in the meantime finds his life suddenly less solitary as his daughters and ex-wife step in to keep an eye on him as he recovers. Relationships are reinforced, as well as newly formed and broken; insights are gained, and modest improvements are made. The concluding pages are filled with phrases such as "good enough job," "solvent, if not rich," "okay place to live." But a man with his Socrates, his rotisserie chicken, his solitude and his family relationships in place, can live without the fireplace.

Slowly making its way to the Grinnell College Libraries.

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