The perfect, suburban family has become a prominant theme and stereotype in American culture. Families from the works of Anne Tyler represent the exact opposite of this cultural stereotype. None of Tyler's novels contain families with faithful, domestic wives, breadwinning husbands, and 2.3 well-behaved, perfect children. Tyler kills this misconcieved stereotype in Breathing Lessons, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, and The Accidental Tourist. Anne Tyler grew up with her parents on a series of experimental communes, so she developed a different perception of family life. She observes domestic life from the view of an outsider looking in. Minor-- and sometimes major-- flaws characterize the average family in Tyler's novels because many of today's families are imperfect. Because of her communal upbringing, she observes family life more honestly than do writers who romanticize family life. Tyler's novels show that the picture most people see when they think of the typical American family is shifting from the Cleavers to the Simpsons.
Anne Tyler was born in Minnesota in 1941, but much of her childhood was spent moving around. Tyler never spent a minute of her childhood living in the type of suburban household so typical of the 1940's and 1950's. Because large, domestic Southern families surrounded her as she grew up, she was somewhat of an outsider in society. Tyler's unorthodox upbringing caused her "...to view the normal world with a certain amount of distance and surprise, which can sometimes be helpful to a writer"(Crane 2). Tyler realistically depicts family relationships without over-exaggerating them. ...
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...--- .The Accidental Tourist. New York: Knopf, 1985.
-----.Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1982.
Yardley, Jonathan. " Anne Tyler's Family Circles." Washington Post, August 25, 1985, (pp. 311-313).
Mathewson, Joseph. " Taking the Anne Tyler Tour." Horizon, Vol. 28, no. 7, September 1985, (p. 313).
Demott, Benjamin. " Funny, Wise and True." New York Times Book Review, March 14, 1982, (p. 432).
Updike, John. " Bellow, Vonnegut, Tyler, Le Guin, Cheever." Hugging the Shore:Essays and Criticism, New York: Knopf 1983, (pp. 434-435).
"A Glance: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant." Available [Online], April 23,1999, http// www.Amazon.com.
" A Glance: Breathing Lessons. " Available [Online], April 23, 1999, http// www.Amazon.com."
Crane, Gwen. " Anne Tyler." Scribner Writers CD, (pp. 1-19).
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