A Patchwork Planet

A Patchwork Planet

Book - 1998
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In this, her fourteenth novel--and one of her most endearing--Anne Tyler tells the story of a lovable loser who's trying to get his life in order. Barnaby Gaitlin has been in trouble ever since adolescence. He had this habit of breaking into other people's houses. It wasn't the big loot he was after, like his teenage cohorts. It was just that he liked to read other people's mail, pore over their family photo albums, and appropriate a few of their precious mementos. But for eleven years now, he's been working steadily for Rent-a-Back, renting his back to old folks and shut-ins who can't move their own porch furniture or bring the Christmas tree down from the attic. At last, his life seems to be on an even keel. Still, the Gaitlins (of "old" Baltimore) cannot forget the price they paid for buying off Barnaby's former victims. And his ex-wife would just as soon he didn't show up ever to visit their little girl, Opal. Even the nice, steady woman (his guardian angel?) who seems to have designs on him doesn't fully trust him, it develops, when the chips are down, and it looks as though his world may fall apart again. There is no one like Anne Tyler, with her sharp, funny, tender perceptions about how human beings navigate on a puzzling planet, and she keeps us enthralled from start to finish in this delicious new novel.
Publisher: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1998.
Edition: First Trade edition.
ISBN: 9780375402562
Branch Call Number: F
Characteristics: 287 pages ; 22 cm


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Jan 17, 2018

This book should have been called, "The Man With No Ambition". That seems to sum it up so much better than some obscure blanket that was referenced twice and is supposed to wrap up the whole plot of the book. We get it, you're trying to be all deep and meaningful. Except, your book is literally about nothing. This man does one thing well, and that's work. It's the only thing he's good at, it's the only thing he truly cares for. He obviously doesn't care for any of his family- he can't find anything nice to say about them- not even his own daughter. He describes her as awkward looking, and never really shows her any affection or love. "But he doesn't know how!" You cry. To which, I reply, bull. He shows Maud May more love and affection than he does his own flesh and blood. He clearly feels no real ties to Sophia, as he sleeps with Martine the second she seems attractive to him. This man has no drive, no love, and no will, and berates others in his mind that do. This type of person gets no sympathy from me. The book simply ended as well- no tie ups, no direction, no indication of what was to happen next. Tyler can do this because nothing happened in the first place. I won't be reading anymore of her works. To those of who are saying, "Tell us how you really feel". Oh look, I just did.

Feb 06, 2016

Barnaby's a bit of an unreliable narrator, or at least I thought so at the beginning of this charming story. His family doesn't trust him. He thinks his clients don't trust him. But he sees himself, at least as he approaches 30, as an honest man. And he sweetly, bumblingly, goes on to prove it. He seems to have set himself up to fail once again. The ending is a real winner, though, proving that you can't judge anyone by the degrees they've earned or the jobs they hold, or even how beautiful their lovers are.

WVMLStaffPicks Oct 27, 2014

Son of a wealthy Baltimore family, Barney Gaitlin is in a lifelong struggle to live up to their expectations of him. His heart is in the right place, however, and through his eyes we come to appreciate the patchwork of people coping with life on our planet. A charming, funny, thought-provoking novel.

skylars Nov 05, 2013

Story of former "bad boy" who grew up to have a heart of gold. Wasn't as good as most of Anne Tyler books. His personality was a little weird for my taste.

BugLady1 Feb 09, 2013

Nice story and an easy read. I love how Anne Tyler presents realistic characters in such a simple straight forward way, yet she has a way of expressing something so deep. Everyone should have a "man you can trust" in their life, or be one!


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