Vanessa's Reviews > A Slipping-Down Life

A Slipping-Down Life by Anne Tyler
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's review
Oct 05, 2011

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bookshelves: read-in-2011

"I'll never get anywhere. I ain't but nineteen years old and already leading a slipping down life."

Ok, not to spoiler your reading experience to come but this line was my favorite moment in this book and made me think of my favorite novel about the anticlimactic reality of adulthood, Rabbit, Run.

This little slip of a novel is a real change of pace if you are more accustomed to Tyler's later, more famous efforts chronicling the disaffected lives of the middle-aged. This is Tyler's third book, written when she was still in her 20's and is unlike anything else I've read by her.

The protagonist is 17 year old Evie Dekker, a high school student in late 1960's North Carolina who so used to be being invisible to her widowed father and the kids at school that she glides through life like a chalk mark. That is until she hears a sullen musician named Drumstrings Casey being interviewed on the local radio and develops an unusual interest in him-unusual as you'll see because Evie doesn't seem to care about much of anything. She drags her one friend to see him perform a few times until an incident at a local club one night binds her and Casey together in unexpected ways. I'm not going to get into specifics because other reviews and synopsis give it away and I think it's really better if you don't know what's coming.

This isn't a difficult read but takes a little effort to get engaged because Evie's character (by design) is so passive that even when she finds herself the center of small town gossip and fascination, she's barely involved. But what else can you expect from a girl whose whole social universe is one friend, an indifferent maid and a father who doesn't know how old she is? I enjoyed the thick 1960's atmosphere as the South and the rest of the country, along with Evie, teetered on the edge of a new age. It's not up to the level of the Updike I referenced earlier, but it's interesting.
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