I ask you what you’re reading many a Tuesday in the SPEEDY BD SURVEY, and you have every right to ask me back. The answer? I can’t read much when I’m working on a book, but now that Sweet Salt Air is done and summer here, my to-read pile is growing.
At the top is Toni Morrison’s newest, Home. I would read anything of hers, if only to experience the feeling and flow of her work. She doesn’t get bogged down in the heavy prose used by so many other literary writers, which makes her totally readable.
After that comes The Red House, by Mark Haddon, who was so successful with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I was drawn to this new one by a piece about the author in The Wall Street Journal.
Next in the pile, Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, was recommended by a friend. I don’t usually read murder mysteries, but she swears that the book offers the study of a marriage as well, and relationship stories I do do.
Finally, I want to read The Art of Fielding, which is the summer buzz in a lot of book groups. It isn’t really about baseball, simply uses the game allegorically. Or so I’m told.
I did just finish one book. It was Anne Tyler’s The Beginner’s Goodbye. I’ve been a fan of Anne Tyler for years. Her stories are mostly set in Maryland, and her main characters are eminently quirky, if loveably so. The Beginner’s Goodbye isn’t long (9 chapters, 208 pages), but it’s a gem. The story unfolds through the eyes of 38-year-old Aaron, whose wife died the year before but whom he swears he has seen several times since. Oh, he hasn’t told anyone that she comes back to see him, though he has plenty of explanations for it. Most, of course, have to do with understanding his life with her and accepting her death. Ms. Tyler nails that, tackling each stage of grief in a way that is totally entertaining. Yes, entertaining. There’s much humor here.
Being a writer, I have always envied Anne Tyler’s knack for description. Take this example. Of his wife, Aaron says, “She had a broad, olive-skinned face, appealingly flat-planed, and calm black eyes that were noticeably level, with that perfect symmetry that makes the viewer feel rested.” Do you see her? I do. The words are simple but used freshly, and the rhythm is … level and rested.
Or this one. In describing their early days together, Aaron says, “The first time she rode in my car, she didn’t so much as glance over, not even at the very start, to see how I was driving. She was too busy huffing on her glasses and polishing them on her sleeve.” Trust me, this perfectly describes the woman.
Anne Tyler first hit it big with books like An Accidental Tourist and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. If you’ve never read her before, you could start with one of those, or skip right ahead to The Beginner’s Goodbye.
Or, if that isn’t your cup of tea, you could try The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. I’ll be reading it at the beginning of September for my own book group’s first fall meeting.
Okay. So I’ve given you my list. What’s on yours? Or, alternately, what book would you like me to read and review?