In a career that started over thirty years ago and shows no sign of slowing down, Anne Tyler has built herself a reputation as one of the best writers in America, winning important prizes as well as membership in the American Academy and Institute of Art and Letters. Is her place so near the top of the heap well-merited? Tyler is a good writer, to be sure, on occasion a very good one. Yet there doesn’t seem to be much recognition that the quality of her work varies tremendously from novel to novel. The books for which she received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize, The Accidental Tourist and Breathing Lessons respectively, are hardly her best, while her best books often have not been singled out for special notice. Her showier tricks have been much touted, her truer, subtler gifts often overlooked. Tyler herself, more astute than most of her critics, prizes Celestial Navigation (1974)...

 
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