The Beginner's Guide to Anne Tyler


Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors.  She’s a master at capturing the poignancy of everyday life.  Her books usually concern ordinary characters living their ordinary lives. Her writing probes human nature by way of the typical milestones: a birth, a marriage, a funeral.  With her astute insight, Anne Tyler transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.

If you haven’t read anything by Anne Tyler then her newest novel The Beginner’s Goodbye is a good place to start.  The main character, Aaron, is an editor at a vanity press that also publishes a how-to series entitled The Beginner’s Book of…, a derivative knock-off of those black and yellow Dummies books. Crippled in one arm and leg, he has always resisted attempts from others who offer help.  His life changes when he finds himself falling in love with Dr. Dorothy Rosales, whom he had approached to help write The Beginners Book of Cancer.  Not long after they wed, a freak accident results in Dorothy’s death.  Aaron is overcome with a paralyzing grief, until one day Dorothy appears to him in the street.  Through chance meetings with this spectral entity, Aaron comes to terms with his loss, and gains insight into his marriage and his life.

Anne Tyler has written 19 books, so you’ll have plenty of choices after The Beginner’s Goodbye.  Two of my favorites are Digging to America in which the lives of two couples become intertwined when they both adopt Korean girls, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Breathing Lessons about an eccentric couple who have been married for 28 years.

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