Looking for A Second Chance

SAINT MAYBE by Anne Tyler; Knopf; 337 pages; $22

Anne Tyler's literary career has been as pleasurable to watch as her books have been to read. Both the process and the products exhibit an organic symmetry. Tyler seems to have known what she wanted to do from the beginning and then to have got better and better at doing it.

Her early novels, such as If Morning Ever Comes (1964) and A Slipping-Down Life (1970), started small; they meticulously but fluidly recorded the perceptions of individual protagonists, usually young and female, adjusting to the outside world, most often represented by Baltimore...

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