It’s time for the first April read in my Anne Tyler 2021 project and a slim volume that I yet again didn’t remember. I must have bought this with birthday book tokens.

If you’re reading along with the project or just this one or whatever, please do share your thoughts in the comments at the bottom or add a link to your review on your blog or Goodreads, etc.. I’m adding links to these reviews plus all the reviews I am alerted to to the project page, so do pop there to see what other people have thought, too.

Anne Tyler – “Earthly Possessions”

(25 January 2004)

Although I didn’t believe in God, I could almost change my mind now and imagine one, for who else could play such a joke on me? The only place more closed-in than this house was a church. The only person odder than my mother was a hellfire preacher. I nearly laughed. (p. 84)

I’m definitely starting to see patterns in Tyler’s preoccupations and themes as I work my way through them – a very pleasing aspect of reading all of an author’s works in order. Here we have the tropes of multiple siblings, each with their oddity, the woman alone with her odd family, photographers, the runaway wife, the young and seemingly attractive but pretty useless drifter guy, and the small town (not Baltimore again), as well as the house full of STUFF.

Charlotte is on her way to leaving her husband (again) and in particular their great mass of joint family possessions, which seems to have a life of its own and just won’t go away, just getting added to by full-size and other furniture. But as she tries to get some money out, she is taken hostage by an inept bank robber and ends up going on a road trip with him (as you do). She narrates the novel’s current happenings and also her past life that has got her to this point, and it’s another finely observed narrative in which not much happens (even a roadtrip with a criminal turns out not to be that exciting) and repeatedly considers shucking off her earthly possessions and running more freely upon the earth.

It’s a short novel but a fun one and very readable. Do we agree with the ending? Well, it’s very Tyler-esque, at very least.