March 7, 2017

A Slipping-Down Life by Anne Tyler

By Anne Tyler


Evie Decker is a shy, a bit plump youngster, lonely and silent. yet her quiet lifestyles is shattered while she hears the voice of Drumstrings Casey at the radio and turns into immediately interested in him. She manages to satisfy him, bursting out of her lonely shell--and into the attentive gaze of the intangible guy who turns into all too real....

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On the contrary, “the mythic figure of Lincoln [and] . . the railroads and telegraph that reconquered a geography” (xii) continue to circulate in ever-popular survey courses like “American Literature After 1865,” a fact that underscores how the Civil War has for some time functioned as a structuring metaphor for literary historiography. This does not mean that we should dismiss it as a literary value; rather, if we decenter and rehistoricize its iconography we will produce more nuanced readings of texts ostensibly designed single-mindedly around this rupture.

Is as good as, or better than” his own; that she is “neither an Indian nor a negro child,” but that her blood “is pure Spanish” (29, 33). Ruiz de Burton insists upon the ignominious social position of “Indian[s]” and “negro[s]” to celebrate the “highly born” (33) Lola. Like the dismissive stance taken by California’s 1856 Colored Convention movement, whose newly inaugurated black newspaper the Mirror of the Times desired to “tell [white] Californians that Negroes appreciated and understood [the principles of republican government] more than many of the state’s foreigners and [Irish] illiterates,”30 Ruiz de Burton’s own unattractive representation is designed to undermine the assumptions white Americans hold about Mexicans.

Historian Patricia Limerick astutely scrutinizes Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis as an effort to authorize the United States as an imperial power by distinguishing “native” from European antecedents. Turner’s frontier mythography exists in Oedipal relation to the Puritan creation story it seeks to supplant; reassessment of Turner as the father of American regionalism accordingly focuses upon the ways in which his historiography, like the Puritan narrative founded at Plymouth Rock, serves a nationalist agenda.

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