Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Fifty: Celestial Navigation by Anne Tyler (and 50B: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

I finally make it to Anne Tyler, one of my favorite writers who does not get the critical support she deserves. Okay, so she has a Pulitzer and National Book Critics Award for The Accidental Tourist (an excellent book), but she has many other novels which deserve attention. 

Tyler's most recognizable feature is her unique characters. To say many of her characters are off center is being polite. Many are just plain strange, but almost always in an appealing way. Tyler loves people, especially those who choose to approach life with their own unique view despite what society tells them. She is not naive about people, and the eternally unhappy person usually makes an appearance, but it is the strange and wonderful which capture her attention.

Celestial Navigation is Tyler's 5th novel, published in 1974 -- long before praise started coming her way. It focuses on Jeremy, a 38-year-old bachelor who has lived with his mother while rarely leaving their house. At the outset we find the mother has died and Jeremy's sisters enter the picture. The mother had turned their house into a boarding house, so Jeremy has company, but over the years he strays less and less from home until he is nearly confined inside. He is an artist with a studio on the top floor, and although at times he is a teacher to some budding artist, his detached and strange ways usually finds them leaving.

In the midst of all the changes comes Mary. She has left her husband and moved to Baltimore with her daughter to be with her new lover, but that eventually ends. Jeremy, much to his surprise, falls in love. Despite his strange ways and unattractive appearance (and Tyler excels in this description), she falls for him as well. In one of my favorite lines, after she tells him no to his marriage proposal, he shocks with the casual line: "What hope do you have for a better life, if you keep on saying no to everything new?"

They have a brood of children and Jeremy begins to make small excursions out and becomes successful as an artist. But now that he has Mary and all he wants, he finds himself drifting once again. The title refers to how Jeremy gets through life, by following his path in the heavens. He steers by a force unseen by others and unknown to him, but it is a path nonetheless.

Tyler writes the book from the perspectives of many characters. Only when doing it from Jeremy's perspective do we get more of a 3rd person narrative. This inconsistency would get Tyler bad marks in a creative writing program, but it works because Jeremy lacks the self consciousness of other people. Tyler takes us through 13 years of his life and we see people sail in and out of his life, but he continues on as before. Characters like Jeremy serve well to make us reexamine our own choices, but Tyler does not use them as foils for our own self interest. Her unique people are to be accepted and even treasured for who they are individually. 

Where Tyler is sometimes criticized is for romanticizing characters and lives (okay, she is also criticized for not having much in the way of sex in her books, but I always thought that was a stupid thing to say about anyone). But Tyler is not romantic about her characters, as this novel will show you, although she is hopeful for them. If that constitutes a weak writer, I hope she continues losing strength!

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This is a great collection of stories which I've read many times since I discovered Sherlock Holmes in 5th grade. I actually read another collection first, but this is the first collection of short stories and one most people are familiar with. I've not read all of them together in quite some time and I certainly have a new eye. At times I was frustrated by Doyle's failure to bring clear closure to a story, and some hardly seemed mysteries at all. However, Holmes is as difficult as ever as a person, which makes him all the more interesting. He does some things for show early on, but his love of deduction is what really drives him. These are well worth the read.

Just for my own fun here is my ranking of the stories (Holmes fans are always ranking stories!).

1)"The Adventure of the Speckled Band"
2)"The Adventure of the Red-Headed League"
3)"A Scandal in Bohemia"
4)"The Boscombe Valley Mystery"
5)"The Five Orange Pips"
6)"The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet"
7)"The Man with the Twisted Lip" 
8)"A Case of Identity"
9)"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle"
10)"The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb"
11)"The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor"
12)"The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"

This will probably change next time. Usually Red-Headed League tops the list.


Up Next 
So close! Just two more weeks to reach my goal. As I said before, Jane Austen gets the final week. But for next week, my busiest week of the year in which I dare not fail in my goal when so close to the end. A friend of mine (who recommended an earlier book) suggested Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams as a short, but not light book. My eldest also warned me that it is not a quick read, but I take heart that I'll manage.

30 comments:

  1. I do consider all the ideas you have introduced on your
    post. They're very convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for beginners. May just you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.
    Also visit my blog post ; www.daily-wet-tshirt.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aw, this was an extremely good post. Taking a
    few minutes and actual effort to create a superb article… but what can I say… I
    procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.
    My page: free teen porn pictries

    ReplyDelete
  3. Exceptional post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte
    more on this subject? I'd be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Kudos!
    Also see my website :: xxxvideofix.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have been browsing online more than 4 hours today, yet
    I never found any interesting article like
    yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion,
    if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did,
    the net will be a lot more useful than ever before.
    Check out my web site ; teenpornsexpussy.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks a lot for sharing this with all people you really understand what you are talking about!
    Bookmarked. Kindly additionally talk over with my website =).
    We may have a hyperlink alternate arrangement between us
    Also see my website > naked teens

    ReplyDelete
  6. Terrific article! This is the kind of information that are meant
    to be shared across the web. Disgrace on the seek engines for not positioning this put up
    upper! Come on over and visit my web site . Thanks =)
    My web site ; www.teenpornsexpussy.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm not sure where you're getting your info,
    but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this information for my mission.
    Check out my site teen porn Pictures

    ReplyDelete
  8. This website was... how do you say it? Relevant!

    ! Finally I've found something which helped me. Many thanks!
    Have a look at my web page - Some Wet

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi to every body, it's my first go to see of this weblog; this website includes amazing and really excellent information designed for visitors.
    my web site: best remodeling contractors in orlando florida

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm not sure where you're getting your info, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this information for my mission.
    My site ... click through the up coming document

    ReplyDelete
  11. Just wish to say your article is as amazing. The clarity in your post
    is just excellent and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Well with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.
    Feel free to visit my blog customer service

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any
    browser compatibility issues? A small number of my blog readers have complained about my blog not operating correctly in
    Explorer but looks great in Firefox. Do you have any advice to help fix this issue?
    Here is my website :: Buy Cheap YouTube Views

    ReplyDelete
  13. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I do think that you should publish more about this
    subject matter, it might not be a taboo subject but generally folks don't talk about such subjects. To the next! Many thanks!!
    Also visit my weblog - grow 3 inches

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet viewers, its really really nice paragraph on building up new
    web site.

    my homepage: tv shows
    Also see my page - new releases,dvd,blu-ray,movies,tv shows

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's an amazing article designed for all the internet users; they will get benefit from it I am sure.

    my page: Vintage Moebel Karlsruhe
    Also see my website :: Shabby Chic Moebel Karlsruhe,Vintage Moebel Karlsruhe,Villa Schoensinn Karlsruhe

    ReplyDelete
  16. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied
    on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about,
    why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be
    giving us something enlightening to read?

    My weblog :: Villa Schoensinn Karlsruhe

    ReplyDelete
  17. You are so awesome! I do not believe I've truly read something like this before. So good to find someone with some unique thoughts on this issue. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

    Also visit my website - 411 hurt

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my website so i came to “return the
    favor”.I am attempting to find things to improve my site!
    I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

    Feel free to surf to my weblog; smoking at bars in new york
    My web site: smoking in the office

    ReplyDelete
  19. My developer is trying to convince me to move to .

    net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.
    But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using Movable-type on various websites for about a
    year and am nervous about switching to another platform. I have heard excellent things
    about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?
    Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

    Also visit my weblog ... hakukonemainonta

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi all, here every one is sharing such know-how, so it's good to read this weblog, and I used to pay a visit this web site every day.

    Also visit my web blog ... play games online free

    ReplyDelete
  21. Very good post! We are linking to this particularly
    great article on our site. Keep up the great writing.

    Also visit my page ... http://www.pussyxxx.org/

    ReplyDelete
  22. You made some really good points there. I looked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most individuals
    will go along with your views on this site.

    My weblog: www.sexyhotgirlz.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I know this if off topic but I'm looking into starting my own blog and was curious what all is required to get setup? I'm assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?

    I'm not very internet smart so I'm not 100% positive.
    Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    Here is my site: xxx tube

    ReplyDelete
  24. It's an amazing paragraph for all the web visitors; they will get benefit from it I am sure.

    My web-site ... voyeur movies

    ReplyDelete
  25. When someone writes an article he/she maintains the
    plan of a user in his/her mind that how a user can know it.

    So that's why this article is outstdanding. Thanks!

    my web-site; cuteteenporn.net

    ReplyDelete
  26. Today, I went to the beach with my children. I found a sea
    shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!



    Also visit my blog post ... Massage Happy Ending

    ReplyDelete
  27. I always emailed this weblog post page to all my associates, for the reason that if like to read it next my contacts will too.


    Also visit my website http://xxx-fuck.net

    ReplyDelete
  28. For newest information you have to go to see web and on web I found this website as a most excellent
    web site for most up-to-date updates.

    my web site; www.cfnmfever.net

    ReplyDelete
  29. I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post.Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful.

    - Buy Instagram Comments
    - Buy keek Marketing

    ReplyDelete
  30. I am very happy to be here because this is a very good site that provides lots of information about the topics covered in depth. Im glad to see that people are actually writing about this issue in such a smart way, showing us all different sides to it. Please keep it up. I cant wait to read whats next.Buy YouTube Subscribers

    ReplyDelete