Category: Anne Tyler

Guardian Interview with Author Anne Tyler

I often recommend reading Anne Tyler’s work for practical purposes…to see how she writes, to see her technique, and to see how well executed her dialogue is. I’ve read all her fiction, except for one children’s book she wrote with her daughter. I’ve never been disappointed.

This interview she gave is rare…for her. She doesn’t do this often, if ever. And I thought it was both interesting and informative. I learned a few things I didn’t know…like the fact that Judith Jones has been her longtime editor for years, and, they’ve only met four times. This is not unusual. I’ve never met any of my editors in all the years I’ve been getting published. It’s not that writers are reclusive. It’s that we are more behind-the-scenes people than up front people. For those who don’t know, Judith Jones discovered Julia Child and rescued “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

But the statements to which I’m linking in this piece that come from Anne Tyler are as understated as the clear simple lines in her books.

I found this amusing:

 For some it seems Tyler’s work is just too darn “homely” to be a contender for Great American Novel status – adjectives such as “homespun”, “heartwarming” and “cosy” pop up alongside the superlatives in reviews – even though books by male contemporaries are meditations on the same theme (Franzen’s latest bumper family novel isn’t called Freedom for nothing), and twice as long. There’s not enough sex for a start. “I would never be in bed with my characters,” she says. “I try to show them respect.”

It’s interesting to me because I’m in bed with most of my characters and I try to show them the same respect in bed…more often than not…whenever I can. I can’t help getting into bed with them, so to speak, I write erotica and that’s what my readers want. I write for them, not for me. But I get what she is saying. Sometimes it does seem just a little too familiar and I wind up defending them and I have to hold back on a good deal of emotion.

And this is so true:

She says that over the years she learnt “just to go to my room and plug away. It doesn’t take very long for most writers to realise that if you wait until the day you are inspired and feel like writing you’ll never do it at all.”

It’s a long article and you can read it in full, here. There’s also an interesting recommendation from Tyler about a book she thinks all fiction writers should read.

Book Review: The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

Unless you’ve actually experienced a horrific event in your life that is so shocking it not only defines your past but also your future, it might be difficult to grasp the magnitude of The Beginner’s Goodbye. In other words, that one day in your life…or maybe even minute…that defines everything about you and tests you, where there was your life before the event and then your life after the event. People who have experienced these sudden losses, so strange by nature they never could have been predicted, will know what I’m talking about. You’re never the same again.

In this book it’s the sudden loss of a spouse, in a relationship that was far from perfect and yet it worked for both husband and wife. And this sudden, unpredictable loss leaves Aaron not only in shock, but also going through all the stages of grief, from blame to acceptance. One minute he’s living his normal ordinary life and the next he’s living someone else’s life and he’s not sure how to start over. But more than that, he’s not ready to let go of his wife either. There’s so much left unsaid and so many things he wished he’d done he begins to run into his dead wife in the most unlikely places…or at least he thinks he does.

The intricate relationship between Aaron and his wife before her death is examined closely, and those who know and understand what being married for the long haul is all about…the compromises and frustrations and the little things taken for granted…will laugh and cry at various stages of this book. Even the reaction Aaron has to his own home is depicted in such detail, and it’s so real, people who have lost their spouses will be amazed something like this could have been written so well. One day he’s enjoying the less than perfect aspects of his home and the next he can’t even stand to look at it from the curb.

As the story progresses, Aaron slowly moves forward toward his new life, by stumbling and tripping (literally and figuratively) with each step he takes. This is the new life he never imaged he would have. He does this in his own quiet way, by remembering little details about his dead wife’s flaws and attributes. He examines his marriage all the way back to the moment he met his dead wife. And by doing this he not only learns more about his dead wife and his marriage, but he also learns a few things about himself he didn’t see while he was married. At times it’s funny; at times it’s painful. For those who have experienced trauma like Aaron’s experienced, at times it’s even difficult to read.

I’m not going to give out any spoilers in this review because that would ruin it for all the people who will understand where Ms. Tyler was going with this book, and who will relate to Aaron. The writing is solid and tight, without overwritten sentences or poor dialogue tags. There’s no unnecessary dialogue to slow down the pace. What’s there moves the story and the characters forward with each sentence. And the only down side to reading a book like this by Anne Tyler is that now I’ll have to wait at least another two years for her next novel.

My one suggestion would be to advise readers not to read the book description by the publisher. It does contain a spoiler I thought was intricate to the story, and had I read it before I started the book I would have missed out on one huge surprise in the book. I don’t know who wrote this book description, but he/she clearly doesn’t know how to write book descriptions very well.

FSoG, Release Date for "Chase of a Lifetime," and What’s Considerred "Vanilla"

This is going to be my last post…I think….on “Fifty Shades of Grey” for a while. I’ll have a release date for “Chase of a Lifetime” very soon…it will be released this week. And even though the self-publishing experience on Amazon has been much harder than what I normally do with publishers, I’m going to begin a novella as soon as COAL is up on Amazon. I’ve enjoyed the experience and there’s a project I’ve always wanted to tackle. So I figured I might as well give it a shot on Amazon. I’m also in the process of submitting a short e-book to titled, “Cowboy and Sparky.”

Back to FSoG. Last night I read an interesting blog post over at Pub Rants. PR is an agent blog written by Kristen Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency which is based in Denver. I’ve been following it for a long time. I don’t always agree with everything on the blog, but I do admire the fact that Ms. Nelson is what I consider a pioneer in publishing in the sense that she saw opportunities on the Internet and built a successful literary agency in Denver instead of New York. She’s proven that not everyone has to be in New York in order to have a New York Times bestseller or a successful publishing career. I think that’s groundbreaking in itself.

This week she posted about FSoG, asking her blog readers to offer comments as to why they think the book is so popular. She was honest. She couldn’t figure out why a book like that would not only cross into the mainstream but also become such a big hit. It’s an interesting post, and more than a few people commented. Some of the comments weren’t very important. But one blog reader seemed to nail it. Ms. Nelson then wrote a second post, here, and printed the comment.

I’ve already posted about FSoG, and just this past weekend I went into detail about how friends of mine have been talking about the book. It’s interesting to see how different people have such varied views all the way around.

This line from the PR post resonated with me:

The sex is vanilla.

I thought the same thing. But then I think most erotic romance these days is too safe and too vanilla. I kept quiet about this when I heard friends discussing it because they were all talking about how “filthy,” and “dirty” it is. I just figured that because I write erotic romance I’ve become immune to what is considered “vanilla.” I should also add that the friends I was with were all gay men who thought FSoG was so filthy and dirty. And when I read the PR post, I was glad to see someone else agreed with me that it wasn’t at all like that. At least not in my opinion and I’m not even into BDSM. I’ve never written it and doubt I ever will.

I also agreed with every other reason why this person who commented on the PR blog liked FSoG. I know it’s not great literature, and yet I couldn’t put it down. And I haven’t even read the other volumes because I haven’t had time. I will read them, as soon as I finish the new Anne Tyler novel I just started, “The Beginner’s Goodbye” (all reading of any kind stops short for me when Anne Tyler publishes a new book). And in a way, I’m kind of saving the other FSoG books on purpose as something to look forward to as the weather gets warmer. I like knowing that I can plan my reading list way in advance. And because I only get a few hours very late at night to read fiction for pleasure, I’m not as selective about what I read as I probably should be. My only interest at that hour is to be entertained. And I think FSoG will be a great follow up to Anne Tyler, because there isn’t a fiction writer out there, in my opinion, who can compare to her. If anyone is interested in seeing how fiction should be written from a technical POV, read any of her books. Just the way Tyler writes dialogue and dialogue tags alone is something all fiction writers should see in order to learn how to craft a novel and stay away from too many of those hideous said bookisms and dialogue tags with adverbs like lovingly and longingly. This alone is a good example of why she’s a classic. I might even write a post about this after I’m finished reading the book just to show what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, I see far too many mistakes these days, and they are simple mistakes to fix.