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Clock Dance: 05/29/20
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler is about a woman trying to find her way in a life that seems to be taking her along for the ride. The book is set in four distinct time periods, with the last one being the meat of the plot.
In 1967 we see how a young Willa copes with her mother suddenly disappearing. She's there one day and then she's not. Her father then spends every night afterwards making her "world famous grilled cheese."
In 1977 she's in college and considering a marriage proposal. It seems like the thing to do even if she's not one hundred percent sold on the idea.
In 1997 she's a widow. Her husband is suddenly and unexpectedly dead. She's now a single mother.
Then it's 2017. Willa is remarried. Her son is an adult. She lives in Arizona. She has a routine. But then she gets a phone call that will completely change her life: her son's ex-girlfriend has been shot and her daughter needs someone to watch her.
The remainder of Clock Dance is set firmly in the road narrative spectrum. Although Willa and her second husband travel together to Baltimore to care for a girl who isn't their grand-daughter, it's Willa who decides to stay. It's the first time she's made a decision that directly affects her life without in put from someone else. She, though, doesn't feel especially empowered and is therefore a marginalized traveler (66).
The destination, Baltimore, is symbolically home (66). It's home because the ex-girlfriend and her daughter provide her a chance to feel at home in a way she hasn't probably since her mother left in 1967. Her time here is her decision.
The route there, via an airplane, is an offroad route. A novel about a marginalized traveler going home via an offroad route is in the middle of the spectrum. It's just above the crossover point between horror and realistic fiction. One can argue that her passive life was bordering on the horrific in that she didn't take any risks or speak up until she was past middle age.