Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Beech trees, bench and Baltimore
Much enjoyed Anne Tyler's new novel, Noah's Compass. 'Wise, gently humorous, it's about a schoolteacher, forced to retire at sixty-one, coming to terms with the final phase of his life. Liam Pennywell, who set out to be a philosopher and ended up teaching, never much liked the job so early retirement doesn't bother him. What does bother him is that he has lost the memory of what happened the first night after he moved into his spare, efficient condominium on the outskirts of Baltimore. All he knows when he wakes up a day later in the hospital is that his head is sore and bandaged.'
Apart from the hospital scene, this is another novel about the gentle minutae of ordinary life. Two wives gave up on Liam and he doesn't seem to connect strongly with his daughters. He's is a quiet man who doesn't expect or give much, but he's interesting all the same. Amazing how Anne Tyler writes so brilliantly about unexceptional events. She's like Jane Austen in that sense though obviously current day Baltimore is different from C18 Bath. I'm sure people will read Anne Tyler in centuries to come.
I don't know if this new novel would appeal to the young but it appealed to me. Here's a Guardian review.