How does Anne Tyler do it? When she describes a person in the context of his or her family, when she makes lips move and words emerge, we KNOW that person, everything about that person. And yet, we keep reading because we know that Tyler will continue to help us learn about not only each person in her story, but also about Life and about ourselves.
As Tyler helped us learn in The Amateur Marriage, most decisions made by anyone, especially in his or her personal life, are going to be made amateurly, and some better than others.
In Digging To America, we meet two families who adopt infants from Asia.
Betsy Donaldson, the aging, opinionated ex-hippie, is never as gentle or tactful as her wardrobe might lead one to expect. The Yazdans, a young Iranian-American couple, find themselves intimidated by Betsy's suggestions, but prove to be just as caring with their young child as Betsy is to her's.
After reading one of Anne Tyler's novels, we know so much about the characters that we feel that, if the character walked past us in a shopping mall, we might recognize him or her. And Tyler doesn't have to tell us much about each character to work her magic. This one wears a red coaoverallst; that 's hair is always perfectly coiffed. In this way are decisions made and in this way are people known, both in Tyler's novels and in real life.
Tyler's descriptions of the extended communities we build to help ourselves live ours lives are touching and absolutely real.
-- Emily Berk