A Slipping Down Life is one of Anne Tyler's earlier books (written in 1969) but she has already found her voice, portraying the quirky lives of the most ordinary people.
The story centres on Evie Decker, a reclusive, dowdy, almost invisible teenager living with her widowed father in small town America. Teenage life has almost passed her by when one night she listens to an interview with a prickly beatnik musician, Drumstrings Casey, on the local radio station. Fascinated she begins attending his performances, where she is as invisible as ever. One night, to the perplexity of everyone who knows her, Evie spontaneously carves his name on her forehead, thus ensuring she will never be invisible again.
For a time Evie acts as a publicity magnet for Drumstrings' fledgling music career. Despite his initial revulsion towards the ordinary dowdy girl who has become part of his life, Drumstrings develops his own fascination for Evie. Impulsively they marry, to the shock of both their families, and try and settle into a life together. But in many ways Drumstrings is even less mature than Evie and they face a challenging life ahead.
Fans of Anne Tyler will easily recognise her warm and sympathetic portrayal of two troubled people whose lives intersect. While set in the unique surrounds of small town America of the 1960s, Tyler's characters are both universal and timeless. This book is a great example of Tyler's talents, even early in her writing career.