The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler: A preview and synopsis

The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler reviews the journey of a crippled man, engulfed by sad solitude after his wife's death. With a compact story, a neatly woven narrative, and an author reputed for psychological novels - this is a must read fiction releasing in April 2012.

The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler, the nineteenth novel from the veteran US novelist, is one of the most eagerly awaited books to release in April 2012. The Beginner’s Goodbye reviews the life journey of a crippled middle aged widower, initially engulfed into sorrow but later somewhat soothed by his wife’s spiritual visits beyond the grave. Scheduled to be published on April 3, 2012, a preview of The Beginner's Goodbye justifies why it's Pulitzer winning author is so reputed for her intricate insights into the psychological realms.

A synopsis of the story of The Beginner’s Goodbye

The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler, psychological novel published in April 2012 Far from being a typical ghost story, The Beginner's Goodbye is not a ghost story at all. A preview of The Beginner's Goodbye through the back cover blurb hardly does any justice to Tyler's merits at all. The haunting, disturbing yet movingly beautiful psychological narrative begins with the crippled protagonist Aaron with his right arm and leg disabled from his very childhood. A dominating sister made his young days even worse. The wind seems to change in Aaron's favor as he comes across Dorothy, a simple outspoken lady, with whom he falls in love and soon gets married. Although not the fairy tale couple, Aaron and Dorothy had been spending their days in peace and love, until an uprooted tree crashed over their house and put and end to it.

With Dorothy's death, Aaron suddenly finds his life to be an immense vacuum he can never fulfil. He succumbs to a sea of grief and despair, but later recollects himself enough to live through with unexpected visits from his wife beyond the grave. Gradually he begins to discover her all around - in the house, the market streets, the side-walks. By and by Aaron recollects, going back to normal life and his self publishing business. Writing and publishing books on the trials of human life, Aaron tries to find out a way to bid goodbye to a journey that seems to have just begun.

The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler: A critical review

In The Beginner's Goodbye, Anne Tyler plots to pen out the pains of a crippled man, doubled by the tough trials of his life. She is deeply touching when in Chapter 2, Aaron feels utterly hollow and helpless after the accident as he had to move with other people's helps instead of rescuing Dorothy -

I said, "Get her out! Get her out! Get her out!"...I wished I did have pain. I hated my body. I hated sitting there like a dummy while stronger, abler men fought to rescue my wife.

The marginality of a crippled man's mind is then translated into spacial metaphors.

I wanted to ride with her in the ambulance, but too many people were working on her. They told me to meet them at the hospital instead. By that time we had been joined by Jim's wife, Mary-Clyde, and she said she and Jim would drive me. Mary-Clyde was a schoolteacher, full of crisp authority.

Aaron's childhood spent in fending off his dictating sister, whereas Dorothy was a gifted relief, a bit of fresh air to his stagnant life. It is significant to note how right after Dorothy's accident, the feminine authority comes back through Mary-Clyde as an omen of Dorothy's demise to follow soon. The marginalization in spatial terms still continues as Aaron finds the hospital, Johns Hopkings, to be

...a gigantic, unfeeling, Dickensian labyrinth where patients could languish forgotten for hours in peeling basement corridors...

Anne Tyler, American novelist most known for her psychological novels I cannot help constructing a review of The Beginners Guide with a far fetched comparison. This might be better recognized by Indian readers, and Anne Tyler might had never thought it likewise, but there is a striking similarity between Aaron's discovery of Dorothy in her spiritual forms and Śri Rādhā's bhāvasammilanam following the departure of Śri Krshna to Mathurā. Śri Rādhā recollected from the initial shock of her lover's departure forever by discovering him all around and in all objects, and finally thinking herself to be one with him.

While the structure is somewhat Joyecean, and the endless trials of the protagonist reminds of Thomas Hardy to some extent, Anne Tyler is yet strikingly original for her moving style. With a language befitting the narrative, she retells the evergreen saga of love, loss and life trials. At the end Aaron finds solace in his vanity publishing, his own way to bid goodbye to a journey that seems to have only begun. The end provides a catharsis, and we suddenly discover an immense strength in our crippled protagonist that life can perhaps never belittle.

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Guest Author: Shanna23 Jun 2012

Your's is the intelligent approach to this issue.

Guest Author: 03 Jul 2012

Shanna, thanks for the appreciation. Keep coming back for more book reviews from me in regular intervals.

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