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Book Review: "A Spool of Blue Thread" by Anne Tyler

by Annie Kapur 2 months ago in literature
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5/5 - a character analysis through the inside of a house...

So, I have probably told everyone and their mother how much I love Anne Tyler's writing. Critics (normally male critics) dismiss her as 'sentimental' because they do not have the depth to understand the softness of syllables in contrast to the tension of situational drama. That is their own problem. Anne Tyler's writing often comes across otherwise as the 'everyman' style - this family could be any of ours, this situation could be any of our own and certainly, this story could be told by our friends about their own or by us about our own. It's pretty much an 'everyman' story. I've read numerous books by her so far and I am planning to read all her others, of course my Julian Barnes read and re-read binge will have to continue concurrently. I am finally reliving the books I loved as a teenager (and this time it's not just The Vampire Chronicles. Although, that was a huge part of it).

In this strange and haunting tale of a family that spans across lots of different generations, in the centre of it all is the wandering and hard-working Abby. She has four children, a husband named 'Red' who seems to be pretty hard-working too, even though he can say some pretty stupid stuff and lives in this beautiful house in Baltimore that is being held up by everyone who ever comes to repair it. A house with its own personality and character, but not in the way Shirley Jackson designed it to be (hopefully because that would be pretty damn terrifying) - it entraps the personalities of everyone who ever lived there. (okay, so it's a little like the Shirley Jackson Hill House situation, but at least this one doesn't kill people).

Among the character list there is Denny, the son, he is really odd and distant. Almost like he is hiding something half the time and the other half someone is hiding something from him. He is everywhere and nowhere all at once - he cannot do, he cannot commit and sometimes, you have to feel sorry for him, but other times it is really hard to feel sorry for him because he did this to himself. There is also Stem, the adopted son, and his wife Nora. Nora is essentially the most helpful person ever, borderline people-pleaser, there is some definite OCD with that woman and nobody seems to want to help her no matter how much she helps everyone else. It's bubbling underneath but honestly, this dynamic is so weird. Stem is a nice guy though, he's nothing like Denny - which I think makes Denny somewhat jealous. There is the other child, Junior - who is basically not there. His mind is simply not along the same lines of absolutely anyone else in that house - even Denny is closer and that is saying something. Junior is under the thumb of his somewhat overbearing wife, Linnie. So we have this family, basically, that is about to go nuts - we just have to see why.

From what I have analysed of this text, there is something of a give and take thing going on. The men are reluctant to give and the women are reluctant to take. The women are better at giving and the men are better at taking. After this, it results in pure chaos in which it is one of two or three results that include the estrangement of one of the men from the family, or the woman becoming trapped in a role she does not want, or even the man becoming someone under his wife's thumb or foot, depending on the severity of the situation.

Oh, and that is just the beginning of it...

In other words, Anne Tyler has done it again.


About the author

Annie Kapur

Film and Writing (M.A)

150K+ Reads on Vocal

IG: @AnnieApproximately

Pronouns: (she/her/hers)

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