The Beginner's Goodbye shares plot elements and themes with The Accidental Tourist. If you have read the latter so many times you have it memorized, you will find good recourse in the former.
The central character, Aaron, has lost his spouse, not his child, but proceeds through, like Macon in TAT, the seeming impossible pain and numbness of the first hours to a reconciliation of sorts. Again, some of the wittiest passages concern day-to-day operations and titles of a small publications company in Baltimore where Aaron works as an editor. There is the retreat to the family home, where Aaron's sister, like Macon's, maintains a living memory of their childhoods, and the consequent abandonment of Aaron's marriage home. This house, like Edward the dog in TAT, is a foil character in the story; as it is rebuilt from the accident that killed Aaron's wife, Aaron himself is able somewhat unconsciously to rebuild. This reconstruction can only be effected through the agency of others - family, friends, coworkers, community. It is a theme we encounter again and again in Tyler, our necessary social dependence, and the struggle of the wounded loner to accept it, rejoice in it.
The protagonist speaks from the first person, an unusual choice for Tyler.
Like her other novels, The Beginner's Goodbye is a roman a clef, and the key is to be found, like in Shakespeare, in the swear words. Aaron thanks heaven. "Jesus, Dad," the dead twelve-year-old Ethan complains in TAT about a movie theatre seat. These are two examples of a device that proliferates throughout her body of work. They are worth a dissertation study all on their own.
- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: VINTAGE ARROW - MASS MARKET; 1 edition (1 February 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099572230
- ISBN-13: 978-0099572237
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 200 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)