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Anne Tyler is a great writer and in a great rut. Though her considerable British following will pounce on The Amateur Marriage, only the hard core of fans, for whom she can do no wrong, will be satisfied. By the standards of her best work, the new novel is perfunctory. Her patient mining of generic lives for sharp individual truths seems a worked-out vein this time around. By a failure of the literary transubstantiation normally so reliable a mechanism in this writer's work, the characters remain ordinary, if not positively tiresome. Tyler's home territory, from which she rarely strays, is Baltimore, famously a city of distinct ethnic neighbourhoods.
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It's not only the marriage that disintegrates
BBC Radio 4 Extra - The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler, , Lindy Is Missing
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The Amateur Marriage
Anne Tyler is a formidably skilful storyteller, with every narrative trick at her effortless command. Her latest novel, like its predecessors, is concerned with the minutiae of everyday life. The Amateur Marriage opens in , soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and ends 60 years later, with America once again in shock following the uniquely horrible destruction of the World Trade Centre.
The plot concerns the marriage of Michael Anton and Pauline Barclay, who meet when he tends to her bloodied brow in his family's grocery store, located in a primarily Eastern European enclave in Baltimore , in December They marry after Michael is discharged from the Army with a permanent injury caused by a deliberate shot from someone he assaulted. Michael and Pauline settle in a small apartment above the store, but their widely different temperaments and expectations quickly create dissension in the relationship.