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Cover image for A patchwork planet
Format:
Title:
A patchwork planet
Author:
ISBN:
9780375402562

9780701167967

9780449003985

9780375702907

9780804119184
Edition:
1st trade ed.
Publication Information:
New York : A.A. Knopf, 1998.
Physical Description:
287 pages ; 23 cm
Summary:
A lovable loser tries to get his life in order. He is Barnaby Gaitlin, 30, the black sheep of a rich Baltimore family, ex-juvenile delinquent who specialized in housebreaking for kicks. He works for Rent-a-Back, moving furniture for old people, and dreams of having a future.
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Library
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TYLER
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FIC TYLER
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FICTION - TYLER
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FIC TYLER
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FICTION TYLER
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Tyler, A.
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FIC TYLER
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FIC TYLER
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On Order

Summary

Summary

In this, her fourteenth novel--and one of her most endearing--Anne Tyler tells the story of a lovable loser who's trying to get his life in order. Barnaby Gaitlin has been in trouble ever since adolescence. He had this habit of breaking into other people's houses. It wasn't the big loot he was after, like his teenage cohorts. It was just that he liked to read other people's mail, pore over their family photo albums, and appropriate a few of their precious mementos. But for eleven years now, he's been working steadily for Rent-a-Back, renting his back to old folks and shut-ins who can't move their own porch furniture or bring the Christmas tree down from the attic. At last, his life seems to be on an even keel. Still, the Gaitlins (of "old" Baltimore) cannot forget the price they paid for buying off Barnaby's former victims. And his ex-wife would just as soon he didn't show up ever to visit their little girl, Opal. Even the nice, steady woman (his guardian angel?) who seems to have designs on him doesn't fully trust him, it develops, when the chips are down, and it looks as though his world may fall apart again. There is no one like Anne Tyler, with her sharp, funny, tender perceptions about how human beings navigate on a puzzling planet, and she keeps us enthralled from start to finish in this delicious new novel.


Author Notes

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 25, 1941. She graduated from Duke University at the age of 19 and completed graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a librarian and bibliographer.

Her first novel, If Morning Ever Comes, was published in 1964. Her other works include Saint Maybe, Back When We Were Grownups, Digging to America, Noah's Compass, The Beginner's Goodbye, A Spool of Blue Thread, and Vinegar Girl. She has won several awards including the PEN Faulkner Award in 1983 for Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, the 1985 National Book Critics Circle Award for The Accidental Tourist, and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons. The Accidental Tourist was adapted into a 1988 movie starring William Hurt and Geena Davis. In 2018 her title, Clock Dance, made the bestsellers list.

(Bowker Author Biography) Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. "Back When We Were Grownups" is her 15th novel; her 11th, "Breathing Lessons", won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 3

Kirkus Review

Tyler's appealing warmth and flair for eccentric comedy are abundantly displayed in her superb 14th novel, following close on the heels of such recent successes as Breathing Lessons (1988) and Saint Maybe (1991). The story's narrator and main character (and, arguably, hero) is Barnaby Gaitlin, an underachieving Baltimorean approaching 30 who's divorced, stuck in a no-future job (which he loves) with Rent-a-Back, performing miscellaneous chores for elderly and disabled people, and indebted, financially and otherwise, to his upscale parents (who manage a charitable foundation) for his well-remembered juvenile delinquency. A beautifully plotted and skillfully exfoliating narrative traces Bamaby's gradual shedding of his youthful indifference and irresponsibility, and immersion in a nest of relationships that stimulate his growth into the ""good boy"" his clients believe him to be. There isn't a saccharine moment in this affecting story, which begins as Barnaby, en route to visit his young daughter in Philadelphia, contrives to meet a pleasant woman traveler who unself-consciously agrees to perform a favor for a distraught stranger. The puzzle of Sophia Barnes's instinctive goodness draws Barnaby to her and, paradoxically, toward another ""housebreaking"" that is the making of him as it's also an ironic echo of the novel's opening action. Prominent among the unlikely reality instructors who simultaneously smooth and ruffle Barnaby's amusingly described passage toward maturity are his patient father and disapproving mother (who, it seems, cannot forgive her son for outgrowing his waywardness), and especially his several aged employers, all knowing they're headed toward death, yet uniformly determined to hold onto whatever world is left them (for example, Mrs. Alford, who dies only after completing her ""quilt of our planet""--""makeshift and haphazard, clumsily cobbled together, overlapping and crowded and likely to fall into pieces at any moment""). Absolutely wonderful: Tyler's many admirers are sure to number this among her very best work. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Things are still quirky, sweet, funny, and wise in Tyler country, as once again, this beguiling novelist portrays seemingly placid characters on the verge of abrupt metamorphosis. Barnaby Gaitland, a 29-year-old threadbare nonconformist and the black sheep of an affluent Baltimore family, is locked in a perpetual cycle of resentment with his mother, who has never forgiven him for the embarrassment he caused her when he got caught breaking into their neighbor's home. This standoff, as well as his divorce, has contributed to Barnaby's disaffection from the adult world in general and his parents' world in particular. His father's family became exceedingly wealthy after his great-grandfather heeded the advice of an "angel," and now the Gaitlands, cold fish all, run a philanthropic foundation. Tyler has made altruism the axis on which this gentle tale spins as she contrasts the Gaitlands' writing checks for the "deserving poor" to Barnaby's regular performance of good deeds as an employee of Rent-a-Back. As he helps the elderly and the infirm and earns their adoration, Barnaby hopes for his angel and believes he has finally found her in Sophia, but even her kindness is tainted and superficial. As Tyler involves us in the minutiae of Barnaby's ragtag life, she offers piquant musings on old age, selfishness, the opaqueness of people's hearts, and the intractability of love. One of Barnaby's favorite clients, Mrs. Alford, has devoted years to making a quilt of "our planet" that is "makeshift and haphazard, clumsily cobbled together, overlapping and crowded and likely to fall to pieces at any moment," a perfect emblem of all our lives. --Donna Seaman


Library Journal Review

David Morse's reading in a calm, even tone reflects the unruffled attitude of the central character in this story. After getting into trouble early in his young adult life, and subsequently paying for his crime, Barney Gaitlin has achieved a level of fulfillment working with senior citizens. Unfortunately, he is perceived by most of his family and friends as a failure, not having attained a college education nor a high-paying position in a high-profile profession. In a relationship with Sophia Maynard, he tries to find a greater level of stability, partly to create a more suitable atmosphere in which to establish closer ties with his young daughter. Tyler's (The Ladder of Years, Audio Reviews, LJ 8/96) characters are real people recognizable in one's own circle of acquaintances. The bonds and tensions arising among family members are readily understandable. A definite recommendation for academic and public library fiction collections.‘Catherine Swenson, Norwich Univ., VT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.