Anne Tyler, the Pulitzer Prize winning author (for Breathing Lessons), is now 72 years old. She has a reputation for being reclusive, almost in the same category as J.D. Salinger of Catcher in the Rye fame. Then, after 35 years, she started giving interviews when her new book, The Beginner’s Goodbye, was published. When asked why, she responded “why not?”.
Ms. Tyler seems warm and friendly in her interviews with no hint of the eccentric recluse some would make her out to be. She’s lived in Baltimore for over 40 years and has set most of her novels there. Her characters are quirky as illustrated by her famous novel The Accidental Tourist which was made into the 1988 Academy Award nominated movie starring Genna Davis. She told an interviewer for USA Today that she visualizes all of her characters forming “a small town in Baltimore where they pass each other in the street”. That would be a charming town indeed.
John Waters, the director of Hairspray, is a friend of the author and says “She beautifully captures regular people who are not trying to be noticed. She writes about real life”.
The Beginner’s Goodbye tells the story of a quiet young man who works in his family’s publishing house. A tree falls on his home, killing his wife instantly, leaving him a widower. Publishers Weekly says the book is “an uplifting tale of love and forgiveness. By the end of this wonderful book, you’ve lived the lives and loves of these characters in the best possible way”.
Anne Tyler’s books have a gentleness about them. There is A Patchwork Planet about a lovable loser who starts a business called Rent-a-Back doing odd jobs for elderly clients. Back When We Were Grown-ups features a 53 year old widow who operates a catering business out of her home and is questioning every aspect of her life. Rather than being depressing, Ms. Tyler’s novels are uplifting, witty and poignant. There are 19 to chose from so be sure to check one out.