WHO: Anne Tyler
WHAT: A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD, a novel
WHEN: Published by Knopf February 10, 2015
WHERE: The story is set in Baltimore…of course.
WHY: “A charming, funny, and shrewd novel
of the paradoxes of self, family, and home.
“In her twentieth gleaming novel, Tyler is as fleet and graceful as a skater, her prose as transparent as ice, dazzling qualities that distract us, initially, from just how profoundly dimensional a tale this is. We get swept up in the spin of conversations, the slipstream of consciousness, and the glide and dip of domestic life, then feel the sting of Tyler’s quick and cutting insights into unjust assumptions about class, gender, age, and race.
“Abby and Red Whitshank worry about Denny, their ever-mysterious son. Their other, more accountable grown offspring live nearby with their children, and Jeannie and the son nicknamed ‘Stem’ work for Red, who carried forward his father Junior’s construction company. Retired social worker Abby and Red still live in the handsome, obsessively well-constructed house Junior built for a wealthy client, then slyly managed to make his own.
“During chaotic family gatherings, disorienting crises, and abrupt domestic reconfigurations (all subtly laced with motifs of blue and Wizard of Oz allusions), simmering resentments and secrets bubble up. Tyler then whirls back in time to tell Abby’s story and, most strikingly, that of Linnie Mae, her deceptively serene mother-in-law. Junior’s fervent respect for wood and craftsmanship reflects Tyler’s long dedication to language and story, an artistic practice made perfect in this charming, funny, and shrewd novel of the paradoxes of self, family, and home.”
—Donna Seaman, in a starred review for BOOKLIST
“The texture of everyday experience transmuted into art. Lovely insights into an ordinary family…They will be special to readers thanks to the extraordinary richness and delicacy with which Tyler limns complex interactions and mixed feelings familiar to us all and yet marvelously particular to the empathetically rendered members of the Whitshank clan.” —KIRKUS, a starred review
“Tyler is a gifted and engrossing storyteller.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
From the beginning of the book:
Late one July evening in 1994, Red and Abby Whitshank had a phone call from their son Denny. They were getting ready for bed at the time. Abby was standing at the bureau in her slip, drawing hairpins one by one from her scattery sand-colored topknot. Red, a dark, gaunt man in striped pajama bottoms and a white T-shirt, had just sat down on the edge of the bed to take his socks off; so when the phone rang on the nightstand near him, we was the one who answered. “Whitshank residence,” he said.
And then, “Well, hey there.”
Abby turned from the mirror, both arms still raised to her head.
“What’s that,” he said, without a question mark.
“Huh?” he said. “Oh, what the hell, Denny!”
He was silent for a moment, and then he replaced the receiver.
“What?” Abby asked him.
“Says he’s gay.”
“Said he needed to tell me something: he’s gay.”
“And you hung up on him!”
“No, Abby. He hung up on me. All I said was ‘What the hell,’ and he hung up on me. Click! Just like that.”
Publicist for this title:
Helen Tobin | 212-572-2018 | email@example.com