About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Friday, July 20, 2012

#60: A Slipping-Down Life

A Slipping-Down Life, by Anne Tyler
(New York: Ivy Books, 1992, c1970)

"The story is based on a young girl called Evie Decker who we are told in the first page of the novel is not musical. She develops an attachment however for a rock and roll singer who is called Drumstrings Casey. She begins to follow him around to all the places where he sings. He pays no attention to her and so she decides to do something dramatic.

"We are told how one night while he is playing in a club she appears with the name Casey etched on her forehead. As a result he begins to notice her, but he despises her ... . He is egotistic and concerned with furthering his own career. He plays with one man who is a drummer and who decides to act as his manager. This man is called David and he offers Evie the chance to help Drumstrings in his singing career by attending all the concerts and showing to the crowd what one woman will do for a singer. ..."

Opening Lines:
"Evie Decker was not musical. You could tell that just from the way she looked -- short and wide, heavy-footed."

My Take:
This one's a first:  the first book I read on my new, early birthday present Kindle. (Thanks, Mom.) Honestly, I think I still prefer the feel of an old-fashioned paper-and-ink novel, but the Kindle does have its place. When traveling, for example. (Though I do remember hearing some airplane neighbors on a recent flight commiserating about how hard-core readers still need to bring a non-electronic book on flights, for that takeoff and landing period when no electronic devices at all are allowed, period, the end.) 

Anyway, I read Slipping-Down Life on the train to and from Providence last weekend, and knew without checking the publication date that it must have been an early Tyler novel. There's not the depth and complexity of, say, Noah's Compass or Digging to America. It's also notably shorter than most of the Tyler books I've read, though I didn't have any pages to hold and compare so part of that may have been a function of the simpler story line needing less time and attention. Nonetheless, there are moments when Tyler even here captures small details just perfectly: the awkwardness of Evie and Violet's first trip to a rock show, for example, or the thoughtless cruelty of how Drum speaks to Evie in a key scene later (details deliberately vague to avoid spoilage). 

All in all, glad I checked this out of the library rather than buying it, as I don't think it merits repeat readings, but it was about what I wanted for an hour-long, not very scenic train ride on an overcast day. 

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