February 3, 2008

A Patchwork Planet

This is the fourth or so book of Anne Tyler's I've read. The first was An Accidental Tourist, which most people are familiar with. Her books are the sort that explore certain regrets people have or common life mistakes they make, like marrying the wrong person. Her books are deep, but not agonizingly so, and not as depressing as they sound.

A Patchwork Planet is about a 30 year old man who is faced with the prospect of growing up. He literally misspent his youth, abusing his family's modest wealth and turning to petty crime for the sheer heck of it. But while other thieves might steal microwaves and jewelry, Barnaby (great name) was interested in things like love letters and photo albums. His parents sent him to a lucrative reform school, and when he got out he married the wrong woman, who left him soon after the birth of their daughter.

Fast forward a few years and Barnaby is working for Rent-a-Back, running errands and moving furniture for the elderly. He truly is reformed, but his past torments him as he is admitted into the most personal areas of his customers' lives. He cares very much for these people. There are some interesting insights into aging and death.

His family, especially his mother, holds his past over him like an anvil. He scratches out a living, lives in a basement, and can only see his daughter once a month. Will Barnaby ever overcome his past and move on with his life? Will his family and community let him?

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm...this sounds quite interesting. I've never read any of her books. Thanks for reviewing this!


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