Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Beginner's Goodbye" by Anne Tyler

Boychik Lit Book Reviews - No. 13

Here’s my book review of The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler.

It’s a story about love and sudden, tragic loss. Some fans complain it’s too short. So read it twice. The second time through, slow down. Marvel at Anne Tyler's spare style. And ask yourself why it's not the same as other authors who limit themselves to twenty-word sentences, no more than two clauses per. It could be plain-vanilla tenth-grade stuff. It could be boring and insipid. But there's something else going on here. Something gets said between the lines. It could baffle you trying to figure it out. I think it's all about logic and thought flow. Your brain has to supply what's skipped over. She trains you not only to read, but also to think and to feel.

Her main character here is a middle-aged widower. To all appearances, he’s a jerk, easier to sympathize with because he has a disability. But he's using the disability as an excuse not to relate to people. "Don't give me any help" is his self-fulfilling proclamation. He justifies himself to himself, as we all do, even when he knows he's behaving selfishly.

Forgiving all her characters, even the stinkers, is an Anne Tyler trademark. Her writing is a loving, angel’s eye view of the human condition.

I wrote my new novel, Christmas Karma, especially for fans of Anne Tyler. Old heartaches come knocking the week before the holiday, in a story told by an angel with a weird sense of humor. Particularly if you tend to get the blues this time of year, this book will lift your spirits.

For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. Catch these podcasts at BoychikLit.com.

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