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A SLIPPING-DOWN LIFE by Anne Tyler Kirkus Star


by Anne Tyler

Pub Date: March 11th, 1970
ISBN: 0345478959
Publisher: Knopf

Miss Tyler's landscapes of old houses, family gatherings have flattened, and stretched into an arid plain, and the interior and guarded loneliness of individuals becomes as abstracted as desert heat—shattering, heartbreaking, final. Highschool student Evie Decker, "short and wide, heavy footed," lives with her widowed father in small-town North Carolina. Evie, when she was home, listened to the radio all the time ("she had whole hours of silence to fill") and that's when she heard the cool hard voice of Drumsticks Casey, a nineteen-year-old rock musician who calls out picnic statements to the roadhouse teens—("He was picking blueberries. . . . She was emptying ashcans. . . . Have I got to tell you again?"). And Evie is helped out of the ladies' room with "CASEY" spelled backwards in slashes from nail scissors across her forehead. ("I believe this might be the best thing I've ever done. . . . Something out of character. Definite.") Drum grudgingly accepts Evie as a talisman and Evie accepts him as an alternative to a life of endless evenings. They stumble into marriage. Completely and neatly scissored off by their parents, the two youngsters never discover the right things to say, the big things that should happen, and love itself. But after their parting, Drum's slipping-down life contains a new unanswerable question, and Evie leaves, pregnant, to "get along" knowing that true love is for the movies. Lacking some of the delicacy of her earlier novels, perhaps, but Miss Tyler still exhibits a major talent, and this has a bleak, raw power.