March 30, 2012
Emerson Brown, NPR
EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT FROM 'THE BEGINNER'S GOODBYE' AVAILABLE NOW AT NPR BOOKS; ACCOMPANYING INTERACTIVE MAP VISITS ANNE TYLER’S BALTIMORE
A week ahead of the release of her 20th novel, The Beginner's Goodbye, Tyler walks around her neighborhood while discussing her life, writing and adopted hometown of Baltimore where most of her novels are set. Tyler also offers Neary insight into why she often lets her books speak for themselves in an era of book publicity tours, saying, "I did do one [interview] about 35 years ago and I don't have that much to say. So I figure every 35 years will do; it is just about right. It does make me very self conscious when I go back to writing after I talk about writing."
Tyler reveals her characters are wholly a product of her imagination and that she falls in love with all of them, saying: "When I finish a book, I send the book to New York to be read by my agent. So, I just seem to picture them on a train and my heart is broken. I mean I'm thinking of how they're often sort of limited people or shy people. They’re just so brave to be going up there on their own. It's really anthropomorphic. But then, after they get accepted, so to speak, and they're a book on their own, I'm like a mother cat with kittens. I never think about them again. They're gone."
The Beginner's Goodbye could have been Tyler's last book, she tells NPR. But she realized she enjoys writing too much, after she hurdles an agonizing start: "...The first thing that occurs to me as I sit down with my piece of paper: I have nothing to say, why do I think I could do this? And the first pages that I write are just the most mechanical pages where characters are being moved around like puppets. I'm just pushing them into places they don’t necessarily want to go. It's wretched."
In addition to the interview today on Morning Edition, the entire second chapter from The Beginner's Goodbye can now be read exclusively at NPR Books. The site also features an accompanying interactive map that merges pictures, book excerpts and quotes from the author to offer a visual tour of the Baltimore neighborhoods and sites often described in her work.
NPR Books – Books.npr.org – has a monthly audience of almost two million people and is specifically designed to help a busy audience find great reads. NPR Books combines the best of NPR's radio interviews and news with original Web reviews, recommendations and lists. It includes popular recurring series such as "You Must Read This," in which well-known authors make one, passionate recommendation; "Three Books," in which authors recommend three books on a theme; the "NPR Bestseller Lists," based on weekly surveys of 500 independent bookstores nationwide; "My Guilty Pleasure," which reveals the books notable writers love but are embarrassed to be seen reading; and "New In Paperback," which spotlight's the week's notable soft-cover releases.