Picks and Pans Review: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

updated 05/10/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/10/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Anne Tyler

In this ninth Tyler novel, an old woman lies dying. Her earlier life and the lives of her three children are spun out in the iridescent web of the plot. Many years before, she had moved her family to Baltimore, where she was deserted by her husband, a traveling salesman. Their oldest son is handsome, sneaky and successful. The second is a sweet, bumbling boy who eventually takes over a restaurant where people can come "just like a family dinner." The only daughter becomes a pediatrician and marries three times. The mother is all too human, and her children can never forgive her cruelties. This full, complex novel takes a reader ever deeper into these characters' lives. Tyler has never written more beautifully: "Radios late at night sounded so different...so far away and crackling with static, almost gritty, as if the music had had to travel above miles of railroad tracks and deserted superhighways, past coal yards and auto dumps, oil derricks and factory smokestacks and electrical transformers." The odd, ironic name for both the restaurant and this book reminds us we are all homesick all of our lives. And Tyler is the kind of writer who knows little boys smell like warm biscuits. (Knopf, $13.95)

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