Monday, March 25, 2013

Beginner's Goodbye vs Lightning Rods

Yesterday's post was by Barb P. Today Cecilia tackles Anne Tyler's Beginner's Goodbye vs Helen DeWitt's Lightning Rods.

First of all, I am already an Anne Tyler fan.  So, I knew I would be biased in her direction.  But, after reading both, there is no comparison in which one I prefer, Tyler bias or not.  

With The Beginner's Goodbye, Anne Tyler once again captures the heart and soul of someone going through a trying time. This time, it's Aaron...who lives an unremarkable life with an unremarkable woman...Dorothy.  But, after Dorothy's sudden death, Aaron's period of adjustment offers more than just grief and depression.  He simply cannot let Dorothy go. This is a touching, sweet book that is filled with heart and emotion.  I found myself laughing at Aaron more than once...whether this was intentional humor on Tyler's part... just the sad-sack, vulnerable ways of Aaron manifesting themselves as comic moments I do not know.  I would like to think that Tyler wanted us to laugh at him a he and her reader's would try and take life a little less seriously.  Tyler, who is known for her engaging and emotive character studies, really captures the soul of this wayward man.  I would be hard pressed to say it is Tyler's best work but it is one of her most engaging.

On the flip side, you have Helen Dewitt's Lightning Rods. Comparing the Dewitt book with the Tyler book is like comparing avocados and apples.  NOT MUCH SIMILARITY.  Dewitt's book is a statement book about state of sexual harassment and general sexual tensions in the workplace.  I would call it a satire, but it not told in usual "satire" form...with a wink and a nudge.  This story is told with seriousness and devoid of any humor, which makes it all the more tough to read and even stomach.  Now, I do not consider myself any type of a prude and I do understand what the author is trying to say here (I guess) but this commentary on the state of workplaces, sex and male-female relationships just did not sit right with me.  In trying to be witty and edgy, Dewitt just becomes crude and inane. 

The clear winner here is THE BEGINNER'S GOODBYE by ANNE TYLER.  

So far, the books that are moving forward are Arcadia, The Yellow Birds, and The Beginner's Goodbye. Tomorrow Darlene takes up Friends Like Us vs Gone Girl.