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Anne Tyler

  • ... like most heavy people, she had long ago stopped expecting anything of her clothes.

  • 'He's not himself at all today,' Mr. Somerset told me. People say that about Jeremy quite often, but what they mean is that he is not like other people. He is always himself. That's what's wrong with him.

  • People always call it luck when you've acted more sensibly than they have.

  • Some people are aware of everything that is going on everywhere at every moment in their lives.

  • We stay in the house so much because I am waiting for the telephone. I seem to be back in my teens, a period I thought I would never have to endure again: my life is spent hoping for things that only someone else can bring about.

  • It is very difficult to live among people you love and hold back from offering them advice.

  • One sad thing about this world is that the acts that take the most out of you are usually the ones that other people will never know about.

  • Neither of them wore watches. On them, watches broke or lost themselves or speeded up to keep some lawless schedule of their own so you could almost see the minute hand racing around the dial.

  • His mind was an intricate, multigeared machine, or perhaps some little animal with skittery paws.

  • Now peculiar scraps of knowledge were stuck to him like lint from all his jobs.

  • Everything was leveled, there were no extremes of joy or sorrow any more but only habit, routine, ancient family names and rites and customs, slow careful old people moving cautiously around furniture that had sat in the same positions for fifty years.

  • I write because I want more than one life; I insist on a wider selection. It's greed plain and simple. When my characters join the circus, I'm joining the circus. Although I'm happily married, I spend a great deal of my time mentally living with incompatible husbands.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • "Because I Want More Than One Life," in The Washington Post ()
  • My family can always tell when I'm well into a novel because the meals get very crummy.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in The New York Times ()
  • For me, writing something down was the only road out.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • I have spent so long erecting partitions around the part of me that writes — learning how to close the door on it when ordinary lfe intervenes, how to close the door on ordinary life when it's time to start writing again — that I'm not sure I could fit the two parts of me back together now.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • It seems to me that since I've had children, I've grown richer and deeper. They may have slowed down my writing for a while, but when I did write, I had more of a self to speak from.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • I expect that any day now, I will have said all I have to say; I'll have used up all my characters, and then I'll be free to get on with my real life.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • I think I was born with the impression that what happened in books was much more reasonable, and interesting, and real, in some ways, than what happened in life.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • I hated childhood, and spent it sitting behind a book waiting for adulthood to arrive.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • The only real trouble that writing has ever brought me is an occasional sense of being invaded by the outside world. Why do people imagine that writers, having chosen the most private of professions, should be any good at performing in public, or should have the slightest desire to tell their secrets to interviewers from ladies' magazines? I feel I am only holding myself together by being extremely firm and decisive about what I will do and what I will not do. I will write my books and raise the children. Anything else just fritters me away. I know this makes me seem narrow, but in fact, I am narrow. I like routine and rituals and I hate leaving home; I have a sense of digging my heels in. I refuse to drive on freeways. I dread our annual vacation. Yet I'm continually prepared for travel: it is physically impossible for me to buy any necessity without buying a travel-sized version as well. I have a little toilet kit, with soap and a nightgown, forever packed and ready to go. How do you explain that?

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 1 ()
  • 'I'm falling into disrepair,' she told the children. 'I've outlived myself.'

  • 'The doctor says I'm going blind,' she told the children, but privately, she'd intended to do no such thing.

  • It was typical of him that he lacked the taste to make a final exit. He spent too long at his farewells, chatting in the doorway, letting in the cold.

  • 'You almost died,' a nurse told her. But that was nonsense. Of course she wouldn't have died; she had children. When you have children, you're obligated to live.

  • She'd been preoccupied with death for several years now; but one aspect had never before crossed her mind: dying, you don't get to see how it all turns out.

  • She had supposed that on her deathbed, she would have something final to tell her children when they gathered round. But nothing was final. She didn't have anything to tell them. She felt a kind of shyness; she felt inadequate.

  • Oh, it's closeness that does you in. Never get too close to people, son — did I tell you that when you were young?

  • See, there's this cook, this real country cook, and pot roast is the least of what she does. There's also pan-fried potatoes, black-eyed peas, beaten biscuits genuinely beat on a stump with the back of an ax.

  • While armchair travelers dream of going places, traveling armchairs dream of staying put.

  • I've always thought a hotel ought to offer optional small animals ... I mean a cat to sleep on your bed at night, or a dog of some kind to act pleased when you come in. You ever notice how a hotel room feels so lifeless?

  • Ever considered what they must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul — chicken, pork, half a cow. We leave at nine and are back at ten, having caught an entire herd of beasts. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!

  • Mostly it's lies, writing novels. You set out to tell an untrue story and you try to make it believable, even to yourself. Which calls for details; any good lie does.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in Susan Cahill, ed., New Women & New Fiction ()
  • I remember leaving the hospital ... thinking, 'Wait, are they going to let me walk off with him? I don't know beans about babies! I don't have a license to do this.'

  • I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in Alice Hall Petry, ed., Critical Essays on Anne Tyler ()
  • 'People imagine that missing a loved one works kind of like missing cigarettes,' he said. 'The first day is really hard but the next day is less hard and so forth, easier and easier the longer you go on. But instead, it's like missing water. Every day, you notice the person's absence more.'

  • I love to think about chance — about how one little overheard word, one pebble in a shoe, can change the universe.

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in The New York Times ()
  • I suspect that marriage is like parenthood: every last one of us is an amateur at it ...

    • Anne Tyler,
    • in The New York Times ()
  • [On retirement:] It was like walking down a red carpet and then turning to find the attendants rolling it up behind you.

  • Look at how long we took deciding whom we’d marry, but this baby’s waltzing in out of nowhere, not so much as a background check or a personality quiz. What if it turns out we don’t have any shared interests?

Anne Tyler, U.S. writer, Pulitzer Prize winner

(1941)

Full name: Anne Tyler Modarressi.