A Slipping-down Life by Anne Tyler: a review
This one would probably rate near the middle of the pack. It is actually one of her earlier ones, having been published in 1970. It just recently came to my attention that I had not read it, so I immediately set out to rectify that oversight.
A Slipping-down Life gives us the story of young Evie Decker. Evie is a lonely, shy teenager living in a small North Carolina town with her widowed father, a teacher.
There is nothing special about Evie. She's slightly plump and not especially attractive. There's really nothing to make her stand out or make people notice her. She doesn't have any particular talents or interests. But then she hears a rock singer named Drumstrings Casey being interviewed on a local radio station and she becomes obsessed with him.
She expresses that obsession in a truly weird way; she carves his last name (his first name is too long) into her forehead during one of his shows. At last, people begin to notice her! And her antics bring her to the attention of Casey himself. Her actions generate some publicity for him and the two develop a strange kind of symbiotic relationship.
Drumstrings (his actual name is Bertram!) is utterly self-absorbed. He is only nineteen and so both of these two characters are adolescents who are still feeling their way in the world.
Tyler conveys quite well what a confusing time this is for these young people and the fact that they do things without really considering the consequences of their actions. I suppose in that sense this could be considered a coming-of-age novel. Evie, at least, has made a kind of transition by the end of the novel and is in a different, maybe better, place emotionally.
This really is a quiet little gem of a book, only 196 pages. The plot and the characters are so wonderfully developed by the author that one feels almost as though one is visiting with friends. Friends whom one sincerely wishes well. Oh, to be able to write like that!