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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars18
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 16 June 2001
The first Anne Tyler book I read was Ladder of Years and I was immediately won over by Anne Tyler's style of writing. Since then I have been working my way through all her books and this was one of the last I read. Although it is not one of my favourites (those would have to be Ladder of Years, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and Searching for Caleb) I would still be hard pushed to say a bad word about Anne Tyler. Often very little happens in her books but the characterisation is so fantastic and utterly absobing that it doesn't seem to matter.
A Slipping-down Life is about a girl called Evie Decker who is one of life's misfits. She is unattractive, overweight and has very few friends. She becomes obsessed with a local small time rock star called Betram "Drumstrings" Casey. Unlike most hero worship scenarios where the dreamed of life with the star never happens, a relationship does develop between Evie and Drum. As one might expect it isn't happily ever after. The book is an interesting commentary on idolising people, and how some people in life are strong charactes and some are weak. You begin this book thinking you know who are the strong people and who are the weak but your perceptions are manipulated and turned on their head. It doesn't work out as you may think!
The characters in this book are well developed and absorbing. One of Anne Tyler's abilities as a writer is her skill in portraying a character so clearly with so few words. Her characters are completely believeable and their motivations and actions totally realistic.
I love books by authors who are strong on characterisation. As well as Anne Tyler I love the work of John Irving for this reason. If you want a lot of fast, action-packed storylines then this book is probably not for you. If you have never read Anne Tyler I would probably recommend another book of hers to begin with. If you have read Anne Tyler and like her work then I have no hesitation in recommending this book, you will like it!
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Having read nearly all of Anne Tyler's books (this early one must have slipped through my net) I was a little disappointed with this one. Her writing is as acute and observant as ever - hence the three stars - but I never really managed to sympathise with the central character, Evie, or mind too much what happened to her. There are certainly some wonderful moments, but for me, if I don't care what happens in a novel, it loses much of its attraction. This is the first time I haven't raced through a book by Anne Tyler. I hope it will be the last.
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on 11 November 2009
This was, all in all, a pretty odd book. You can probably tell that from the synopsis, but I truly didn't anticipate what happened in this novel. I was intrigued by the blurb as I, like all teenage girls, used to have crushes on musicians and fantasise about them falling in love with me. It was an interesting story and there were aspects which appealed to me, but my problem was with the characters. I just didn't connect with any of them. Maybe this is an issue with books with less than 150 pages, but I just didn't feel like I knew Evie. Her life was interesting and appeared to be realistic (not that I know a lot about southern USA in the 1960s!), but I didn't really care whether or not she made the right decisions regarding Casey. Casey was an arrogant and aggravating character to begin with, but by the end of the book he appeared to have grown more than Evie, and had more common sense than her. Despite these positive aspects, I still definitely prefer Tyler's later novels. I'd recommend reading this if you want to find out what her earlier books are like, as this was an intriguing story and definitely not a waste of time, but I am glad that I didn't buy it new
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on 2 January 2002
This is my first Tyler that I could be bothered to finished, and it intrigued me no end. After moaning to my Mum that teenagers were incredibly missrepresented in fiction, especially misfit ones, she recommended it to me.
When Evie Decker carves 'Casey', the name of a local rock singer, on her forehead, their lives both change. The relationship between Evie and Drum Casey is interesting, and seeing Drum's change in attitude towards Evie means the plot takes an odd turn. The change in status between the two makes for compelling reading, and the feelings towards the characters are genuine.
A small tale about a relationship of a completely different nature. The characters are exquisite and the tone remains quiet and brewing throughout.
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on 5 January 2014
Love Anne Tyler and this book won't disappoint. Buying used is a great way to save money. Still very good quality. Thank you.
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on 13 May 2013
A book for a holiday read. As yet unread so am looking forward to it. Delivered to my Kindle so no issues with delivery.
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on 27 July 2014
I have read all her books and this is one of her best
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on 9 August 2015
I am a total Anne Tyler fan - her writing is so concise, tight, descriptive and always scratches at how we are and how we feel and how life progresses. Somehow missed this slightly bizarre story which she wrote some years ago and has a delightful "oh!" of a twist at the end which explains the extraordinary tatoo on Evie's forehead.
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VINE VOICEon 29 July 2009
I am a HUGE fan of Anne Tyler's having read almost all her books (there are still two on my wishlist), but this one was probably my least favourite. Maybe it was because I couldn't identify at all with Evie (I am well past my teenage years!) or her situation or aspirations, but it also gave me a depressing sense of defeat and fatality.

There are, of course, positive aspects of the novel. Anne Tyler's ear for realistic dialogue is excellent and her writing is incomparable, but, like one of the reviewers above, I would not recommend this novel to anyone reading Tyler for the first time. Start with The Accidental Tourist (which blew me away) or Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant instead.
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on 10 July 2014
Compelling and filmic, a Slipping down Life connects us with Evie Decker and her idol Drum Casey. The stolidly overweight and slovenly Evie develops a passion for a second rate but erotically compelling roadhouse guitarist.
Drum Casey's specialitiy is his 'calling out'; odd sentences punctuate his twanging bluesy compositions and although Evie doesn't understand what his words mean, she becomes enamoured of the dark haired , olive skinned rebel. Her blowsy obese friend Violet abets her in their visits to the Phoenix to see the poor white trash acts there.
When Evie indulges in self harm over idol it makes her an infamous celebrity causing him to finally notice her, even if it is in a negative light.We soon realise that the seemingly rebellios Drum is a Momma's boy and when Momma ditches him, Evie takes over her role of making his biscuits eggs and bacon.
The monosylallbic inscrutable Drum teams up with Evie to create a small buzz in the Phoenix. As their relationship develops Drum's sexiness diminishes into a kind of arrogant abuse of Evie's goodwill toward him. He uses her for sex, cigarette money and his general good welfare. Without her , he is a fairly untalented wastrel.
Evie and his manager try to think of ways to publicise Drum, but their actions are always thwarted by Drum's own reluctance to be anything but a slacker.
When he finally insults Evie she knows she is beat and she also knows he is not worth her time .
This all sounds highly serious but is in fact written in the most delightful and kindly manner. Tyler's skill at vernacular dialogue is superb and each character leaps off the page larger than life.
Make a great Jarmusch film- hilarious.
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