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review 2018-08-08 12:19
CLOCK DANCE by Anne Tyler
Clock Dance - Anne Tyler

Chronicling Willa's life during decisive years for her. Willa's reactions to life events depend on how she sees others responding. She then works to make sure they calm down. It is not until the end she learns to stand up for herself (in small ways) that she becomes her own person.

I liked Willa. I felt bad for her because most of the people around her were jerks and she enabled them to continue acting that way. She idolized her father because of the calmness he exhibited when her mother went off the rails. She wanted to be like him in that way. So many others in her life went off the rails like her mother and, like her father, she was the calm but the others walked over her because they knew that Willa would accept them and their behavior and not lash out.

When she gets a call from Baltimore, she goes even though she has no connection to the people involved except her son used to live with the woman. It is here where she finds a purpose and herself. No, she does not go off the rails like her mother but she does finally stop accepting and glossing over the bad behavior. Willa will never be the scream out loud type but she does make her feelings known if you look for the signs.

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review 2018-07-29 17:16
There is a deeper message in what seems like a simple story.
Clock Dance - Anne Tyler

Clock Dance, by Anne Tyler, narrated by Kimberly Farr

The fateful day in 1967, when Alice Drake, in a state of angry frustration, decides to leave her husband Melvin, and her two children Willa and Elaine, 11 and 6 respectively, making them latchkey kids, temporarily, is a turning point in their lives. Willa’s mom was sometimes emotionally unstable and physically abusive. This was an example of her compulsive, sometimes irrational behavior. Willa’s dad, a shop teacher, at the Garrettville High School, was the more stable, patient and serene parent. Willa looks up to him. The whole family, however, suffers from her mother’s thoughtless, uncontrolled rage.

The years pass, and the book picks up in 1977, with little discussion of what occurred in the intervening years. Willa is now in college. She is on her way home to Lark City, Pa, with her boyfriend Derek.  Willa’s mom has another of her uncontrolled, angry outbursts when they discuss their future plans, and it too has its consequences on their futures. Willa declares her independence, but contrary to that declaration, she seems to live her own life subsuming her needs to the needs of others, always smoothing out the wrinkles of life.  

Once again, the years pass, and it is now 1997. Willa is 41. She and Derek have two teenaged children, Sean and Ian. Like Willa and her sister, both of their children are different from each other. While driving and discussing them, Derek, sometimes prone to losing his temper, becomes angry at a driver. Soon road rage has its own consequences. Their whole family suffers from the effects of that anger.

In 2017, without much background information, we find Willa, now 61, with an empty nest, living in Arizona with her second husband, Peter, a man who is more than a decade older than she. He is rather stodgy, but like Derek, he takes care of her and infantilizes her somewhat, making her feel as safe as she did with her father. Women make her more uneasy since her mom was so volatile.

Most of the story begins now with an unusual phone call from Callie Montgomery, a neighbor of her son Sean’s former girlfriend Denise. Denise has been shot in a freak situation and Callie is charged with taking care of her 9 year old daughter, Cheryl, and their dog, Airplane. Callie was overwhelmed, being a working woman who never had children.  She found Willa’s phone number on the fridge and took a chance calling her, assuming she was the grandmother, which she was not. Nevertheless, she enlisted her help, and although totally unrelated to any of them in any way, Willa, yearning to be needed again, feeling useless, purposeless and unnecessary, decides to go to Baltimore to help out. Peter decides to accompany her when he fails to persuade her to change her mind. He feels she is not independent enough to handle the strain and stress of the trip, and she agrees, glad for his help. She is somewhat needy and tentative, insecure and uncertain about being alone. Willa’s transformation over the following weeks is the main theme of the story, I believe. She, at such a late stage, finally comes of age.

As Anne Tyler examines the consequences of certain actions and reactions in each of the character’s lives and follows how their futures evolve, the reader watches them make decisions that are often not well thought out. They are often selfish and cruel, mindless and foolish. Still, each decision can quite possibly be traced back to a previous incident in their lives which affected the formation of their character and made him/her, who or what they become.

Willa sought men like her father, men who embodied what she believed was serenity, good judgment, and strength, men who could protect her. She regarded women like her mother warily. They frightened her. She herself made few waves and always sought the quiet, careful, least objectionable response to all situations. She rarely lost her temper. Her children grew up with the character traits of both she and her husband and were also formed by their experiences, sometimes as a result of being misunderstood at the time they occurred, or because their needs were ignored at that time. Many of the characters had anger management issues as well as inordinately selfish needs without the concomitant sense of gratitude for what they received from others. At the end, as Willa imagined the scene around her at the airport, frozen in time, many of the characters in the book are frozen in times, as well. As we move from time period to time period with little explanation about their intervening years and experiences, the reader is left to their own devices and imagination regarding that missing time and its future effects.

The clock dance that Cheryl refers to is slow and in syncopated time; the one that Willa prefers marches onward, fast forwarding into a world where anything is possible. From wanting to maintain the status quo, she begins to want to live, no longer biding her time, but making use of it.

Anne Tyler’s books always have a hidden, quietly stressed, profound message, and this one is no different, although it is a bit thinner in context than others she has written. She seems to leave open spaces in the narrative deliberately, so that the reader can fill them in. In the end, Tyler examines all of life’s possibilities, and although there is some question as to how Willa will live out the rest of her life, adrift or attached to the mainland, it is reasonably predicted by her last thoughts that she is going forward.

Possibly, in the need to make the book part of the current day philosophy of liberals and progressives, of which authors are great in number, Tyler inserts race, mental illness, drugs, sex, crime and infidelity into the narrative in a sometimes contrived and minor way. Some of the characters seem like caricatures of themselves, i.e. the strong man Sir Joe, the nerdy Erland, the Marcus Welby image of a doctor, Ben, the lonely single life and the desire to be independent as in the overweight, self absorbed Callie Montgomery and the selfish ways of a possibly resentful, unexpectedly pregnant and pretty much unwilling young mother, Denise. She calls into question the art of judging people by appearances and not actuality.

In short, the novel is good story that analyzes relationships, ordinary and dysfunctional, examines family dynamics and explores the experiences and choices of the sometimes, somewhat quirky characters. It is tender, at times, and it is authentic in its insight into the minds of children and troubled adults. No one escapes the consequences of life’s choices, even when inadvertent.

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text 2018-07-15 18:13
Reading progress update: I've read 12%. - immediately immersive
Clock Dance - Anne Tyler

"Clock Dance", Anne Tyler's latest novel, sets out to share the defining moments of a woman's life.


The first. longish, chapter immediately immersed me in the life of the then eleven.year-old-girl, in small-town America in 1967, on the day her mother walks out of the house.


It effortlessly captures that feeling of still working out what's going on in your family, when you're not sure if stuff is really weird or if all the other families do this too and when your anger and anxiety and desire for competence get twisted up with your love for your parents and your doubts and hopes about yourself.



So far, it's wonderful stuff.

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review 2018-07-14 18:32
Finding her Time
Clock Dance - Anne Tyler

Thanks for the free book, @prhinternational! Anne Tyler’s fans were worried that her 2015 novel “A Spool of Blue Thread” might have been her last. How pleased and thankful are we all that she hasn’t gone into retirement because she just couldn’t stop writing? Her newest novel also takes us back to Baltimore (with a couple of short sidetracks) to hear Willa’s story; a woman who drifted through her 60 years of life, until a total stranger calls her, putting her on a path that will change everything. My review of this charming novel is on my blog now. https://drchazan.blogspot.com/2018/07/finding-her-time.html

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text 2018-06-29 07:38
Halbzeit A-Z Autorinnenchallenge
Die Akte Kalkutta: Kriminalroman - Emfried Heidi
Steirerquell: Sandra Mohrs achter Fall (Kriminalromane im GMEINER-Verlag) - Claudia Rossbacher
Die Parasiten - Daphne DuMaurier
Zusammen ist man weniger allein - Anna Gavalda
Emma - Helga Schulz,Jane Austen
Die Reisen des Mr. Leary: Roman - Anne Tyler

Zwei Wochen verspätet melde ich mich mit einem Halbzeit-Bericht (15.6.2018) meiner Autorinnenchallenge, da mich ein Bandscheibenproblem hindert, zu lange vor dem Computer zu sitzen und ich deshalb meine Schreibarbeit einteilen muss.


Was hat sich also getan im ersten Halbjahr mit Fokus auf die Autorinnen: Ich habe viele gute Bücher gelesen und auch ein paar Mal richtig danebengegriffen. Auch habe ich mich zwei Mal über diese typische romantische Frauenliteratur geärgert, die ich ums Verrecken nicht ausstehen kann. Das ist insofern verwunderlich, denn ich habe 20 Buchstaben abgearbeitet und auch innerhalb der Buchstaben manche doppelt belegt also ist die Quote der unerträglichen romantischen Frauenliteratur eigentlich sehr gering. Mein Status bedeutet zudem, dass ich für die nächsten 6 Monate nur noch 6 Buchstaben ausfüllen muss, um die Challenge zu erreichen. Ich werde aber sicher mehr Frauenbücher lesen, denn die Rezensionsexemplare der Neuerscheinungen vom Verlag Kremayr & Scheriau sind auch im Herbst wieder ausschließlich von Schriftstellerinnen. Auch diese werden in meine Gesamtliste aufgenommen.


Meine Statistik sagt

Autorinnen 22/41

Gemischt Autorin/Autor 1/41

Autoren 18/41


Meine Autorinnenquote ist also noch immer bei mehr als 50%


Weil mir die Challenge so gut gefällt und ich eigentlich gar nicht mehr ohne diese Ziele lesen will und mich unbedingt weiter mit LeseFreunden über Autorinnen austauschen möchte, plane ich schon etwas für 2019, entweder dieselbe Herausforderung zu wiederholen, oder Autorinnen aus allen EU-Staaten (bis auf Malta) zu lesen.


Am besten gefällt mir übrigens die Diskussion über Bücher von Autorinnen, die in einer Goodreads Gruppe mit ca. 40 Personen im letzten Halbjahr sehr rege ist. Ich habe viele gleichgesinnte Freunde gefunden, spannende Diskussionen geführt und meine Wunschliste explodiert gleichermaßen vor Büchern von Autorinnen, die ich unbedingt noch lesen will. Ich hoffe es geht auch Euch so und wir haben nachhaltig unser eigenes und das Leseverhalten unserer Freunde beeinflusst.


Auch im Juli geht es spannend weiter - gestern habe ich 2 Bücher bestellt die Chinesin Xinran Xue mit  ihrem Roman Wolkentöchter und die finnische Autorin Sofi Oksanen mit Fegefeuer.


Nun natürlich auch noch meine Liste zum Nachschauen mit heutigem Stand der Dinge:


A: Austen, Jane: Emma **
B: Bachmann, Ingeborg: Das dreißigste Jahr **
C: Chambers, Becky: Der lange Weg zu einem kleinen zornigen Planeten 2,5 *** aufgerundet auf 3
D: Dusl Anna Maria: Boboville - 2,5 *** aufgerundet auf 3
E: Emfried Heidi: Die Akte Kalkutta **** (Rezensionsexemplar)
F: Fölck, Romy: Totenweg 3,5*** aufgerundet auf 4 (Rezensionsexemplar)
G: Gavalda, Anna: Zusammen ist man weniger allein 2,5 ** abgerundet
H: Han, Kang: Die Vegetarierin *****

     Hirth, Simone: Bananama **** (Rezensionsexemplar)
J: Joyce Rachel: Die unwahscheinliche Pilgerreise des Harold Fry ****
K: Kaiser, Vea: Blasmusikpop ****

     Klingl, Livia: Der Lügenpresser 3,5*** aufgerundet auf 4 (Rezensionsexemplar)
L: Lessing, Doris: Die gute Terroristin **
M: Du Maurier, Daphne: Die Parasiten 4,5 *****
N: Nothomb Amelie: Der Professor ****
P: Piuk Petra: Lucy fliegt *** (Rezensionsexemplar)
Q: De Queiroz, Rachel: Die drei Marias ***

R: Rossbacher, Claudia: Steirerquell *** (Rezensionsexpemplar
S: Stauffer, Verena: Orchis **** (Rezensionsexemplar)
T: Tyler Anne: Die Reisen des Mr. Leary ****
Y: Yoshimoto Banana: Eidechse *** nur wegen der Stilform Kurzgeschichte
Z: Zeh Julie: Schilf ****

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