A lopsided pottery house sits on a high shelf in Anne Tyler ’s writing room. The handicraft belonged to the novelist’s mother, who made it in her retirement home as her mind was starting to fade. Ms. Tyler recalled seeing it for the first time: “I said, ‘Oh, that’s lovely,’ and then I heard my voice and it was as if she had become the child, bringing something home from school.”
Ms. Tyler’s new book, “A Spool of Blue Thread,” dwells on the uncomfortable shift grown children make as their parents decline. The little house makes an appearance too, discarded unnoticed after the death of the mother who made it.