Monday, June 12, 2017

Anne Tyler - Celestial Navigation

14. Celestial Navigation by Anne Tyler (1974)
Length: 248 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 2 June 2017
Finished: 12 June 2017
Where did it come from? From Bookmooch
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 June 2017
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

In the fall of 1960, Amanda Pauling is surprised when she and her sister Laura receive a disturbing phone call from their younger brother in the middle of the night. According to Jeremy's relatively matter-of-fact tone, "I wanted to tell you about Mama. She has passed on." His reaction just seems awfully peculiar given the circumstances; distant and strangely unemotional.

Actually, Jeremy Pauling has never left home. He is a thirty-eight-year-old bachelor who lives simply and quietly on the top floor of his mother's Baltimore boardinghouse. Meanwhile, his elderly mother putters around in the rooms below, and takes in a few down-on-their-luck boarders for little or no rent. Mother and son have lived together in this way for several years - Jeremy quietly creating his vast collection of collages of little people snipped from wrapping paper, and his mother taking responsibility for everything else in their lives.

Amanda was never particularly close to their mother herself, but she is surprised that her brother's voice sounds so passive as he speaks about their mother's death. He just seems totally baffled by the situation; and racked by uncertainties about what he should do next. Apparently, this is another reason why he has called his sisters: to ask them to make the proper arrangements. It appears that their mother died suddenly and left Jeremy alone.

To be perfectly honest, Amanda has always felt slightly resentful of their mother's relationship with her only son. In her opinion, the relationship was an inordinately close one; fostered by the sudden abandonment of their father. In the aftermath of her husband's abandonment of herself and their family, she appears to care more about her son's emotional wellbeing; than she does for both of her daughters'. As children, Jeremy always seemed to get the majority of their mother's attention; while Amanda and Laura were basically expected to fend for themselves.

Amanda firmly believes that their mother's persistent coddling of him only made Jeremy's eccentric behavior worse. She never seemed to expect very much from her son, and so Jeremy never felt that he needed to act any differently. Amanda truly believes that his strangeness can be overcome - he just needs to take responsibility for himself, and stop living in his own little world. Although, Jeremy has always disliked having to live like normal people.

Their mother only ever saw Jeremy's eccentric behavior as a sign of his creativity. He's an extraordinarily talented artist, yet he has always had significant trouble connecting with the outside world. Amanda secretly hopes that their mother's death will be just the impetus Jeremy needs to pull himself together and take responsibility for his own life.

Perhaps...But Amanda doesn't realize just how closely Jeremy resembles one of his own creations - a soul that is fragile and easily damaged. And neither of his sisters fully understand just how much courage it takes for Jeremy to voluntarily interact with the outside world. As a matter of fact, nobody can see how much Jeremy's life will change with the sudden arrival of Mary Tell and her little girl, Darcy.

I must say that this book wasn't anything like Anne Tyler's typical works. In my opinion, this was an intriguing story and a unique premise. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and would certainly give this book an A! I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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