Anne Tyler – Breathing Lessons

breathinglessons2I am getting ready to resume classes next week, and I am rushing to finish as many novels as I can over this break because my course work is too demanding to attempt to read any fiction during term time. This is the third Pulitzer I have finished in the month long break I had between classes. I finished Arrowsmith, a book I had already gotten almost half way through, Apley, which I finished quickly, and Tyler’s Breathing Lessons. The first two works were very stilted professional type works with mechanical actions by mechanical actors. Lewis brought in a slight emotional intrigue with the happens of Leora in the Caribbean, but other than that Lewis’ work was very mechanical as was his main character was apt to be. Apley was a very stilted novel again for similar reasons, as Apley the character advised all those around him to be restrained in all walks of life. So I arrived at Tyler’s work coming off intellectualizing everything in the fiction given me with nothing to go on emotionally. Then Tyler’s novel falls on my plate and she is digging into my chest around every turn just trying to get the tears out of me. And it worked, with a heavy sigh I have to admit she made me cry. Tyler executes emotional precision with the best of them. I haven’t cried at the end of many novels, and even less I want to say at the end of many Pulitzers but Breathing Lessons I cried toward the end.

Tyler’s main character Maggie is such a real person it’s not even funny. Ira, her husband, is a little flat but he back story is wonderfully confounding so that it makes it alright for him to be a little flat. Jesse and Fiona are wonderfully rich characters with perfect voices. That is something that I am blown away with this novel as many holes and problems there are with some of the scenes she is really trying to make work, Tyler is able to capture voice in a other-worldly quality. It is simply and utterly amazing. I cannot recall another author’s complete dominance of dialogue. The conversations almost become like set pieces for me as I was anticipating another bout of dialogue to spring up, and trust me she doesn’t shy away from it. Tyler has a magical ability to see into the truest nature of something, people specifically, really true things about individuals, characters. One thing she is lacking as unfortunate as it is to say, is the occasion for these characters to exist. Other than that, she is a wonderful writer that I would love to read more by just to find myself in her stories and those that I know. I don’t want to reveal the moment that I cried at until Drew reads this novel because it is just such a great little tidbit that I wouldn’t want him to lose the power of the moment. I have nothing but good things to say about this work. I really loved the characters and their development, the wholeness of the ending in common things. The symbolism rife throughout this novel that wasn’t overpowering. We have read some pulitzers in this project that the symbolism was just so over the top and exaggerated that I wasn’t sure my lack of appreciation for that trait was okay. After reading Tyler’s work, I am comfortable with my appreciation of subtlety in symbolism especially. Read Tyler’s book Breathing Lessons. I really blinked through this book and it has been chronicled well my clear deficient reading speed, so it is a very easy read. Pick it up today.


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