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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Letting your stories 'shine through'

“What I hope for from a book - either one that I write or one that I read - is transparency. I want the story to shine through. I don't want to think of the writer.”  – Anne Tyler

Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Accidental Tourist, and the Time Magazine Book of the Year Breathing Lessons, Tyler celebrates her 75th birthday today.  Still going strong, she has only recently released her 19th and 20th books, A Spool of Blue Thread and Vinegar Girl.   Ever self-deprecating and low key, Tyler once said that while she was waiting for her child after school, another mother came up and asked if she’d found full-time work yet or she was still “just writing.” 

Born in Minneapolis, Tyler was raised in various parts of the country and often felt like an outsider, a factor that she said helped make her a better writer and storyteller.  Her first reminiscences of storytelling were at age 3, when she said she’d crawl under the covers and tell herself stories to help go to sleep.  She was already writing stories at age 7.

Although she was only “in-and-out” of formal schools, she finished high school at age 16 and enrolled at Duke University where she took renowned novelist and poet Reynolds Price’s first creative writing class.  Price later described her as “frighteningly mature for 16,” "wide-eyed,” “an outsider,” and “one of the best novelists alive in the world… almost as good a writer at 16 as she is now.”

Besides the Pulitzer, Tyler is the recipient of the Janet
 Heidinger Kafka Prize, the Ambassador Book Award,         
the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence in 2012.  Five of her novels have been made into movies, including the widely acclaimed version of Accidental Tourist.

To young writers, she says, “I would advise any beginning writer to write the first drafts as if no one else will ever read them - without a thought about publication - and only in the last draft to consider how the work will look from the outside.”

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