Over the past 25 years, Anne Tyler has produced eleven novels that have enjoyed increasing critical acclaim and popular success, including Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Breathing Lessons. In Understanding Anne Tyler, Petry offers in-depth analyses of each of Tyler's novels, paying special attention to the honing of her style and technical expertise, as well as the evolution of her ideas regarding the individual and the family, the need for Emersonian self-reliance in the face of uncertainty and change, and the capacity of art to facilitate emotional and spiritual well-being. Drawing upon her own correspondence with Tyler in addition to interviews and personal statements throughout her career, Petry also explores how Tyler herself feels about her achievements, her work habits, the various influences on her writing, and her place in contemporary American literature. The book also provides a biographical sketch of Tyler and an annotated bibliography that is essential to anyone interested in pursuing further research on one of the most important writers of our era.
Alice Hall Petry is a scholar specializing in Southern literature, American fiction, and gender issues. In addition to articles in such journals as American Literature, Studies in American Fiction, and Southern Literary Journal, Dr. Petry is the author of several books: A Genius in His Way, on short stories of nineteenth-century New Orleans writer George Washington Cable; Fitzgerald's Craft of Short Fiction, on the stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald; and Critical Essays on Anne Tyler. Currently an Associate Professor of English at the Rhode Island School of Design, she has been a visiting professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, a Fulbright Scholar at the Federal University of Paraná in Brazil, and a Senior Post-doctoral Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies.