Authors: Anne Tyler
Tags: #Fiction, #Literary, #Family Life, #Psychological
As she explores the myriad ways in which dreams get deferred and hopes revised, infusing the prosaic details of domestic life with honor, humor, and deep affection, it is Anne Tyler’s achievement to raise ordinariness to an art form.”
The Christian Science Monitor
“With her picture-perfect Baltimore world of scraped knees, lost jobs and even lifelong grief, Tyler has staked out a singular territory; it is not so much nobility or tear-blinking fortitude that keeps her characters moving but more often their goofy, thoroughly human essence.… Her depiction of Ian’s transformation is extraordinary.”
The Boston Globe
“The pleasure of reading Anne Tyler lies in listening to disparate people, watching out for the odd impressions that creep into the margins of their tales. Seen this way, the moral message of SAINT MAYBE oddly resembles a medieval tapestry.”
“Tyler has the gift of keeping her characters in clear sight as they wax, wane and turn unexpected corners along the passage of time.”
Los Angeles Times
“Tyler crafts a warmly beguiling tale that sometimes echoes such previous works as SEARCHING FOR CALEB, DINNER AT THE HOMESICK RESTAURANT and, especially, THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST.… Here again are life’s endearing misfits, occasionally suffering pangs of self-awareness. Here is that special blend of playfulness and poignancy, the oh-so-true dialogue, the specificity of detail and image.… Heart-wrenching.”
The Orlando Sentinel
“Engaging … SAINT MAYBE is a first-rate novel, told with quiet but fiercely heart-wrenching authority.… Tyler writes in an earnest, plainspoken prose, underscoring her choice to make story itself, rather than style, the means to fictional magic.”
New York Newsday
“A warm and generous novel … Each character in SAINT MAYBE has been fully rendered, fleshed out with a palpable interior life, and each has been fit, like a hand-sawed jigsaw-puzzle piece, into the matrix of family life.”
The New York Times
by any standard and a worthy addition to Ms. Tyler’s impressive body of work … SAINT MAYBE is a gentle, insightful rendering of a troubled family.… This novel won’t harm Ms. Tyler’s reputation as one of our finest prose stylists. Her special gifts are an unassuming but precise descriptive power, an unerring eye for detail and a graceful, unhurried style that conveys perfectly her generous and humane view of family life.”
Atlanta Journal & Constitution
“Tyler’s novels are always a pleasure to read, and with the decline of minimalist fiction writers, Tyler’s sympathetic and sentimental attic-of-family-secrets has the American family all to itself.”
The Detroit News
“Exquisitely crafted … SAINT MAYBE is classic Tyler: wry, offbeat and engaging, with sentences to die for.”
The Miami Herald
The Kirkus Reviews
Finishing a Tyler novel is like waking from a dream-filled sleep.… She has a gift for drawing readers into her world. Her books are hard to put down.… SAINT MAYBE deals movingly with Ian’s self-loathing, his heroic sacrifices and, finally, with his redemption.… SAINT MAYBE is a joy to read.”
The Denver Post
“Wondrous … Every few years Anne Tyler brings out a novel and makes originality again something to appreciate. How fiction that is so modest and unself-conscious, so teeming with melancholic characters, can be so absolutely funny and dazzlingly memorable is, of course, a secret locked inside Tyler’s mild-mannered features, which peer out from her dust-jacket photographs.”
Kansas City Star
“Tyler does her usual marvelous job of creating odd and slightly crazy but lovable characters peculiarly suited to her blue-collar, Baltimore neighborhoods.… The wisdom behind all of Anne Tyler’s fiction is a loving acceptance of the peculiar but surprisingly predictable habits of individual humans, of all their inherent frailties and eccentricities.… Anne Tyler is a master at discovering these peculiarities and writing about them with clear-eyed affection.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Wonderful … A novel that is old-fashioned in its moralism. And completely convincing and refreshing.”
Detroit Free Press
Compassionately and convincingly drawn … The classic Tyler trademarks appear immediately, the warmth and humor of the narrative voice, as if the novel were being told to us by a friend who creates an engaging character quickly and hooks us to her tale.… If you shelve your contemporary novelists alphabetically, as I do, Anne Tyler stands beside John Updike. There’s a metaphor there too powerful to ignore.”
St. Petersburg Times
“Anne Tyler cuts through the monkey business straight to what is true and real in life. To open one of her books is to open an invitation—she leads you right through the front door, plumps you down on the sofa and surrounds you with her characters, ordinary people coping with the kind of extraordinary things that happen every day.… With each new novel she reaches another dimension in her tender exploration of humanity, and reinforces her place among America’s best writers.… With her distinctive blend of unforced philosophy, gentle humor and high farce, Tyler takes us into the life of Ian Bedloe as it is turned inside out.… The maturing of Ian Bedloe is one of Anne Tyler’s most subtle designs.”
The Buffalo News
“The reader is emotionally involved and touched as never before.”
By Anne Tyler:
IF MORNING EVER COMES
THE TIN CAN TREE
A SLIPPING-DOWN LIFE
THE CLOCK WINDER
SEARCHING FOR CALEB
DINNER AT THE HOMESICK RESTAURANT
THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST
THE AMATEUR MARRIAGE
LADDER OF YEARS
A PATCHWORK PLANET
BACK WHEN WE WERE GROWNUPS
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An Ivy Book
Published by The Random House Publishing Group
Copyright © 1991 by ATM, Inc
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Ballantine and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 91-52704
This edition published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
n Waverly Street, everybody knew everybody else. It was only one short block, after all—a narrow strip of patched and repatched pavement, bracketed between a high stone cemetery wall at one end and the commercial clutter of Govans Road at the other. The trees were elderly maples with lumpy, bulbous trunks. The squat clapboard houses seemed mostly front porch.
And each house had its own particular role to play. Number Nine, for instance, was foreign. A constantly shifting assortment of Middle Eastern graduate students came and went, attending classes at Johns Hopkins, and the scent of exotic spices drifted from their kitchen every evening at suppertime. Number Six was referred to as the newlyweds’, although the Crains had been married two years now and were beginning to look a bit worn around the edges. And Number Eight was the Bedloe family. They were never just the Bedloes, but the Bedloe
, Waverly Street’s version of the ideal, apple-pie household: two amiable parents, three good-looking children, a dog, a cat, a scattering of goldfish.
In fact, the oldest of those children had long ago married and left—moved out to Baltimore County and started a family of her own—and the second-born was nearing thirty. But somehow the Bedloes were stuck in people’s minds at a stage from a dozen years back, when Claudia was a college girl in bobby socks and Danny
was captain of his high-school football team and Ian, the baby (his parents’ big surprise), was still tearing down the sidewalk on his tricycle with a miniature license plate from a cereal box wired to the handlebar.
Now Ian was seventeen and, like the rest of his family, large-boned and handsome and easygoing, quick to make friends, fond of a good time. He had the Bedloe golden-brown hair, golden skin, and sleepy-looking brown eyes, although his mouth was his mother’s, a pale beige mouth quirking upward at the corners. He liked to wear ragged jeans and plaid shirts—cotton broadcloth in summer, flannel in winter—unbuttoned all the way to expose a stretched-out T-shirt underneath. His shoes were high-top sneakers held together with electrical tape. This was in 1965, when Poe High School still maintained at least a vestige of a dress code, and his teachers were forever sending him home to put on something more presentable. (But his mother was likely to greet him in baggy, lint-covered slacks and one of his own shirts, her fading blond curls pinned scrappily back with a granddaughter’s pink plastic hairbow.
would not have passed the dress code either.) Also, there were complaints about the quality of Ian’s school-work. He was bright, his teachers said, but lazy. Content to slide through with low B’s or even C’s. It was the spring of his junior year and if he didn’t soon mend his ways, no self-respecting college would have him.
Ian listened to all this with a tolerant, bemused expression. Things would turn out fine, he felt. Hadn’t they always? (None of the Bedloes was a worrier.) Crowds of loyal friends had surrounded him since kindergarten. His sweetheart, Cicely Brown, was the prettiest girl in the junior class. His mother doted on him and his father—Poe’s combination algebra teacher and baseball coach—let him pitch in nearly every game, and not just because they were related, either. His father
claimed Ian had talent. In fact sometimes Ian daydreamed about pitching for the Orioles, but he knew he didn’t have
much talent. He was a medium kind of guy, all in all.
Even so, there were moments when he believed that someday, somehow, he was going to end up famous. Famous for what, he couldn’t quite say; but he’d be walking up the back steps or something and all at once he would imagine a camera zooming in on him, filming his life story. He imagined the level, cultured voice of his biographer saying, “Ian climbed the steps. He opened the door. He entered the kitchen.”
“Have a good day, hon?” his mother asked, passing through with a laundry basket.
“Oh,” he said, “the usual run of scholastic triumphs and athletic glories.” And he set his books on the table.
His biographer said, “He set his books on the table.”
That was the spring that Ian’s brother fell in love. Up till then Danny had had his share of girlfriends—various decorative Peggies or Debbies to hang upon his arm—but somehow nothing had come of them. He was always getting dumped, it seemed, or sadly disillusioned. His mother had started fretting that he’d passed the point of no return and would wind up a seedy bachelor type. Now here was Lucy, slender and pretty and dressed in red, standing in the Bedloes’ front hall with her back so straight, her purse held so firmly in both hands, that she seemed even smaller than she was. She seemed childlike, in fact, although Danny described her as a “woman” when he introduced her. “Mom, Dad, Ian, I’d like you to meet the woman who’s changed my life.” Then Danny turned to Mrs. Jordan, who had chosen this inopportune moment to step across the street and borrow the pinking shears. “Mrs. Jordan: Lucy Dean.”