Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite books is Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Ms. Tyler has the capacity to understand the human condition and spins her characters emotions, fears, hopes and dreams on to the pages of her books in a way that touch my heart. The individuals she writes about tend to be what you might call quirky, but it really is about parts of everyone's personalities, yours and mine.
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant was written in 1982 and it remains timeless. I listened to the book on CD and reread it for this blog posting. I wanted to make sure it was a good as I remembered it to be...it is! Like most of her novels, it is set in Baltimore, Maryland and involves a family. The story begins with Pearl and Beck Tull and their three children Erza, Cody, and Jenny. Beck abandons the family and Pearl simply carries on pretending he's going on another sales trip and will be back sometime soon. This novel examines how the siblings grow up experiencing their childhoods differently with their mother, Pearl.
The oldest, Ezra remembers his childhood fondly. An eternal optimist, he makes plans throughout the book for family meals. but the family never seem to be able to get through without conflict then one or more family members stomps off. The banter is real and emotionally charged conversations are relatable to most families at one time or another, at least it is in mine.
One review states, "Anne Tyler considers her ninth novel, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant as her best work. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Awards. It's considered a classic."
Here is an excerpt from the book from Erza: "Now he grew feverish with ideas, and woke in the night longing to share them with someone.Why not a restaurant full of refrigerators, where people came and chose the food they wanted?They could fix it themselves on a long, long stove lining one wall of the dining room.Or maybe he could install a giant fireplace, with a whole steer turning slowly on a spit. You'd slice what you liked onto your plate and sit around in armchairs eating and talking with guests at large. The again, maybe he would start serving only street food. Of course! He'd cook what people felt homesick for-tacos like those from vendor's carts in California, which the Mexican was always pining after; and that wonderful vinegary North Carolina barbecue that Todd Duckett had to have brought by his mother several times a year in cardboard cups. He would call it the Homesick Restaurant."