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A Patchwork Planet

Tyler, Anne

10,964 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0143012444 / ISBN 13: 9780143012443
Published by Penguin Books Canada, Limited/Viking, Toronto, ON, Canada, 2003
Used Condition: Fine Soft cover
From Booked Experiences (Burlington, ON, Canada)

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As New 8vo-over 7¾"-9¾" tall. pp.288. He may have found his angel andhis place on this patchwork planet. clean tight unread copy. Bookseller Inventory # 007539

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Bibliographic Details

Title: A Patchwork Planet

Publisher: Penguin Books Canada, Limited/Viking, Toronto, ON, Canada

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Soft Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Edition: First Penguin Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Barnaby Gaitlin spent most of his teen years in trouble, thanks to his habit of breaking into other people's houses. But for 11 years now, he's been working steadily for Rent-a-Back, helping old folks and shut-ins who can't move their own porch furniture or bring the Christmas tree down from the attic. He's worked hard to put his life on an even keel, but his family can't forgive him for past mistakes, and his ex-wife would just as soon he didn't ever show up to visit their little girl. Even the nice, steady woman (his guardian angel?) who appears to have designs on him doesn't fully trust him, it seems. So whom can he turn to when his world begins to fall apart again?

Review:

Barnaby Gaitlin is one of Anne Tyler's most promising unpromising characters. At 30, he has yet to graduate from college, is already divorced, and is used to defeat. His mother thrives on reminding him of his adolescent delinquency and debt to his family, and even his daughter is fed up with his fecklessness. Still, attuned as he is to "the normal quota for misfortune," Barney is one of the star employees of Baltimore's Rent-a-Back, Inc., which pays him an hourly wage to help old people (and one young agoraphobe) run errands and sort out their basements and attics. Anne Tyler makes you admire most of these mothball eccentrics (though they're far from idealized) and hope that they can stave off nursing homes and death. There is, for example, "the unstoppable little black grandma whose children phoned us on an emergency basis whenever she threatened to overdo." And then there's Barnaby's new girlfriend's aunt, who will eventually accuse him of theft--"Over her forearm she carried a Yorkshire terrier, neatly folded like a waiter's napkin. 'This is my doorbell,' she said, thrusting him toward me. 'I'd never have known you were out here if not for Tatters.'" These people are wonderful creations, but their lives are more brittle than cuddly, Barnaby knows better than to think of them as friends, because they'll only die on him. Yet his job offers at least glimpses of roots and affection. Helping an old lady set up her Christmas tree (on New Year's Eve!) gives him the chance to hang a singular ornament--a snowflake "pancake-sized, slightly crumpled, snipped from gift wrap so old that the Santas were smoking cigarettes." And Barnaby himself is sharp and impatient at painful--and painfully funny--family dinners, apparently unable to keep his finger off the auto-self-destruct button every time his life improves. As much as his superb creator, he is a poet of disappointment, resignation, and minute transformation. --Kerry Fried

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