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10 thoughts on “Breathing Lessons

  1. Glenn Sumi Glenn Sumi says:

    I finished reading Anne Tyler s Breathing Lessons a week ago, but I found myself thinking about it a lot, especially during the recent holidays.Tyler s specialty is family and marriage, and while sitting down to countless meals, chatting with parents, siblings, in laws, nieces, nephews, extended relatives and seeing little grievances and grudges pop up and then be gently patted back down, hearing current events be analyzed in smart or odd or even offensive ways, seeing patterns some good, some I finished reading Anne Tyler s Breathing Lessons a week ago, but I found myself thinking about it a lot, especially during the recent holidays.Tyler s specialty is family and marriage, and while sitting down to countless meals, chatting with parents, siblings, in laws, nieces, nephews, extended relatives and seeing little grievances and grudges pop up and then be gently patted back down, hearing current events be analyzed in smart or odd or even offensive ways, seeing patterns some good, some regretful emerge among family members I realized how well the author knows people.On the surface, Breathing Lessons, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988, seems like such a simple tale Set during a single day, it tells the story of Maggie and Ira Moran, a middle aged Balti couple who set out one morning to attend the funeral of the husband of Maggie s best friend, Serena, in Deer Lick, Pennsylvania, 90 miles away Maggie, who s got an over active imagination, also gets it into her head to visit Fiona, her ex daughter in law, and her grandchild She secretly wants Fiona and her son Jesse to get back together again She thinks, rightly or wrongly, that they still love each other, and that their constant skirmishes and their pride have kept them apart That s the story in a nutshell, as one of Tyler s characters might say But that s certainly not the book Tyler is so good at adding texture and incident to characters, so their lives feel rich and real The way Maggie and Ira initially get together is surprising but feels right Ira s early home life he oversees his father s frame shop and helps support his two sisters will change how you feel about him later on when he might seem like a smug, cold, solitaire playing curmudgeon.Some of the book s early sequences are just stand alone brilliant At the funeral, Serena demands that everyone who sang at her wedding sing the same song at her husband s funeral The mourners are mortified, but someone comes through with a lovely gesture Side note Pay attention to those songs, from True Love to Love Is A Many Splendored Thing They bring up thematic material that resonates throughout the book What Ira whistles to himself will tell you a lot about what s on his mind And near the end there s a song playing in a supermarket that Maggie and Ira begin harmonizing to I didn t recognize it, so looked it up on Apple Music It stuck in my head for days I can see how the Morans knew it so well And another sequence, a lengthy one set on a highway, gives you a glimpse at a relationship that s lasted even longer than Ira and Maggie s This whole section demonstrates what Tyler does so well mix straight on observation with comedy and a streak of melancholy, all written in a recognizable, middle American vernacular.The gentle and often not so gentle bickering between Tyler s characters reminded me of the banter between my father taciturn, solitary and my late mother gregarious, always chatty with strangers, scattered, well meaning.Tyler has affection for her characters, however flawed, and she understands the small and big mistakes and compromises they ve made on the road of life Don t be surprised if you start questioning whether Maggie did the right thing at a critical moment in Fiona s and Jesse s life.This isn t the showiest book I read in 2015 But it s one of the wisest and the most humane I still think Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant is Tyler s masterpiece, and there are unforgettable things about The Accidental Tourist But this is almost as good


  2. Dolors Dolors says:

    A day in the ordinary lives of a middle aged couple who have a complex, stubborn story together Ira and Maggie are not easy to sympathize with, at least for this reader I found Maggie irritating and her chatter quite distatessful, and Ira a cryptic man whom I never really managed to descipher.Their children, now grown up, are quite a disappointment, particularly the elder boy, Jesse, who has divorced his young wife without fighting to be in the life of his daughter.The real storyline takes pla A day in the ordinary lives of a middle aged couple who have a complex, stubborn story together Ira and Maggie are not easy to sympathize with, at least for this reader I found Maggie irritating and her chatter quite distatessful, and Ira a cryptic man whom I never really managed to descipher.Their children, now grown up, are quite a disappointment, particularly the elder boy, Jesse, who has divorced his young wife without fighting to be in the life of his daughter.The real storyline takes place in Maggie s head where she tries to bring his son and estranged daughter in law together, failing as she did when she first managed to get them married due to an accidental pregnancy.I couldn t finish the book fast enough I found the writing tiresome and the plotthan predictable The characters lacked depth and I felt myself growing tired of their petty tribulations.If you want a profound and unsettling story of a marriage, please, read Salter s Light Years and skip this novel


  3. Rebbie Rebbie says:

    Dnf 24%I cannot get into this book I don t understand how this won a Pulitzer


  4. Brian Brian says:

    Smells could bring a person back clearer than pictures, even didn t she know that 4.5 stars Anne Tyler has a way of writing and collecting the simple elements of life that thrills me While reading this book I was reminded of emotions and feelings from moments in my life that I had forgotten I felt Breathing Lessons takes place over a single day and is broken into three parts, each part told from the first person perspective of one half of married couple, Maggie and Ira Moran.Tyler captur Smells could bring a person back clearer than pictures, even didn t she know that 4.5 stars Anne Tyler has a way of writing and collecting the simple elements of life that thrills me While reading this book I was reminded of emotions and feelings from moments in my life that I had forgotten I felt Breathing Lessons takes place over a single day and is broken into three parts, each part told from the first person perspective of one half of married couple, Maggie and Ira Moran.Tyler captures better than anyone the exasperation and irritability that we can only feel for someone we are very comfortable with, and who we love very much And she uses that in this beautiful work to remind us without a single grand romantic gesture why we need someone along with us for this ride we call life.Ms Tyler also captures the hysterically funny in everyday life It is not knee slapping humor, it is real humor If you stepped back from your day to day and listened to what was said in your home, and by you, you would realize that you are the star of a pretty darn funny show There is a bit in Part II with a minor character named Mr Otis that I just loved.When I got to Part III of this text, I was reluctant to put it down I cared about these people, even when especially in Maggie s case they irritated me Part III, chapter two has everything It is a brilliantly rendered slice of life I had all the feels while reading it.One critic has called Tyler s characters happy sad , which is another way of saying she writes about us, and the way most of us live our lives Breathing Lessons captures that reality, and reminds us to appreciate what we experience good, bad, ugly, and everything in between with those we love


  5. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    Only two stars for this tedious slice of life which by the way if this really is how life is lived you can shove it where the sun don t shine I think most of us would pay handsomely not to have to live these lives And one of my stars is just for the scene where the middle aged couple are doing the now compulsory in all movies singalong in the car and the song they sing is On the Road Again by Canned Heat that surprised me, one of my favourites Old pop music features quite strongly throug Only two stars for this tedious slice of life which by the way if this really is how life is lived you can shove it where the sun don t shine I think most of us would pay handsomely not to have to live these lives And one of my stars is just for the scene where the middle aged couple are doing the now compulsory in all movies singalong in the car and the song they sing is On the Road Again by Canned Heat that surprised me, one of my favourites Old pop music features quite strongly throughout, so of course I liked that but beware, there s an appearance of an excruciating number called Tonight You Belong to Me by two of Satan s minions called Patience and Prudence once heard, never, alas, forgotten, you can use bleach and industrial solvents but you will remember that terrible song on your deathbed that sudden gasp the terminal patient makes towards the end is when somewhere in their brain they are remembering Tonight You belong to me by Patience and Prudence anyway, where was I Oh yes, this is a novel about a really very irritating woman She s the mother and she sticks her beak into her son s lovelife to the extent of manipulating him into marrying one poor girl and when the thing ends in disaster she some years later tries desperately to manipulate them back together That s the top and bottom of it Maggie, this is the said mother, is a very real character so real I longed to unlatch the passenger car door so she could tragically topple out onto the highway during one of the several long car trips she takes But that was not to be The husband, this guy called Ira, sneers and berates her and passive aggressively exposes her half truths and outright lies to the assembled company to her everlasting mortification and when he has a spare moment whips out a pack of cards and plays patience imprudently, you might say Not one iota of affection can be discerned towards his wife during the whole book Well, maybe that s because she s so irritating, but I thought this is supposed to be a thoughtful sympathetic portrait of a marriage by Anne Tyler Instead it s a slog about a grumpy friendless guy who has a pushy meddling missus, we ve seen this kind of set up in many old sitcoms but those scripts usually have some jokes or a laugh track to indicate where the jokes should be Recommended for anyone visiting a dentist and wishing to pre numb themselves Minions of Satan


  6. Fabian Fabian says:

    We can essentially classify Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winners into three categories the epic Age of Innocence, Gone with the Wind, Grapes of Wrath, Confederacy of Dunces, Lonesome Dove, Amazing Adventures with Kavalier and Clay, Middlesex , the deeply personal Rabbit Is Rich, Rabbit at Rest, American Pastoral, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Olive Kitteridge , and the personal epic Beloved, The Hours, Interpreter of Maladies, The Road, A Visit from th We can essentially classify Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winners into three categories the epic Age of Innocence, Gone with the Wind, Grapes of Wrath, Confederacy of Dunces, Lonesome Dove, Amazing Adventures with Kavalier and Clay, Middlesex , the deeply personal Rabbit Is Rich, Rabbit at Rest, American Pastoral, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Olive Kitteridge , and the personal epic Beloved, The Hours, Interpreter of Maladies, The Road, A Visit from the Goon Squad Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler belongs totally to the second of these For a while, cohabitating a Norman Rockwellesque scene is amusing even, gasp, spiritual But after a while the normalness becomes, well, too ordinary This is better than Accidental Tourist anyhow, I bet that the Anne Tyler for my generation is Ann Patchett But this one is not as extraordinary as the title of Champion of Champions will imply


  7. Bianca Bianca says:

    This is the second novel by Anne Tyler that I read and I m happy to say I enjoyed it muchthan The Vinegar Girl.Some quick thoughts the main characters, Ira and Maggie Moran, were very relatable and recognisable Maggie is a busybody, helpful, chatty, well meaning, a bit scattered at times She s constantly fretting over her kids and the grandchild she doesn t get to see any She wants to help and fix people s relationships Ira is the level headed one, a bit taciturn, serious, almo This is the second novel by Anne Tyler that I read and I m happy to say I enjoyed it muchthan The Vinegar Girl.Some quick thoughts the main characters, Ira and Maggie Moran, were very relatable and recognisable Maggie is a busybody, helpful, chatty, well meaning, a bit scattered at times She s constantly fretting over her kids and the grandchild she doesn t get to see any She wants to help and fix people s relationships Ira is the level headed one, a bit taciturn, serious, almost permanently annoyed with his wife s chattering, interference, and small manipulations and he s not even aware of half of them That old adage familiarity breeds contempt is plenty apparent the Morans squabble and get annoyed with each other they misunderstand each other, jump to conclusions, see things differently the main themes of marriage, raising children, expectations dreams vs reality are very well done there s humour, there s mundanity, but most importantly, the characterizations are excellent as much as I like to think that I m unique and cool and all that I AM , in a way, we are all cliches and have stereotypical attitudes, behaviours, pre determined by our genetic makeup, gender and societal norms and roles


  8. Julie Julie says:

    I bought this book in college, right after it won the Pulitzer in 1989 I started it and thought yeah, like I really want to read about an old married couple, fighting in their car I not only did NOT continue to read it, I sold it at a used book store But, there it was again last month, mine for a quarter at an estate sale I reminded myself that it HAD won a Pulitzer, and I was determined to read it this time.I still struggled with the first 25 pages And, even though I realized the old I bought this book in college, right after it won the Pulitzer in 1989 I started it and thought yeah, like I really want to read about an old married couple, fighting in their car I not only did NOT continue to read it, I sold it at a used book store But, there it was again last month, mine for a quarter at an estate sale I reminded myself that it HAD won a Pulitzer, and I was determined to read it this time.I still struggled with the first 25 pages And, even though I realized the old couple was no longer old in comparison no, now they re just in their 40s, like me , they were initially boring to me, all over again.I pushed on, and I m glad I did This novel is almost all dialogue, with a viable, well written story and ridiculously believable characters It s laugh out loud funny at times, and incredibly poignant at others I would recommend Breathing Lessons to just about any woman over 40, especially if she s married This book is an incredible and often hilarious testament to marriage


  9. Michael Finocchiaro Michael Finocchiaro says:

    Breathing Lessons is a dramatic comedy about the uber busybody Maggie, her longsuffering, solitaire obsessed husband Ira and Maggie s crusade to get her daughter in law to make up with her deadbeat son The book is all written in the third person, but with Maggie s perspective for Parts I and III and Ira s perspective for Part II The action of the novel takes place over a single day in which Ira and Maggie are driving from their home in Balti to a funeral in Pennsylvania and waylaid by vari Breathing Lessons is a dramatic comedy about the uber busybody Maggie, her longsuffering, solitaire obsessed husband Ira and Maggie s crusade to get her daughter in law to make up with her deadbeat son The book is all written in the third person, but with Maggie s perspective for Parts I and III and Ira s perspective for Part II The action of the novel takes place over a single day in which Ira and Maggie are driving from their home in Balti to a funeral in Pennsylvania and waylaid by various happenstances during the day We learn the backstories in long asides as Maggie s and Ira s minds wander throughout the day Maggie is notorious for getting into other people s businesses and interfering in her kid s lives especially in the case of her son Jesse Before leaving on the roadtrip, she wrecks the fender of her car as she is pulling out of the bodyshop having repaired all the previous dents and scratches presumably and just drives off without care Ira then wisely takes over and drives them towards the funeral Maggie reminisces about her wedding night She had unbottoned her top button and then her next to bottom button, just enough to let the negligee slip from her shoulders and hesitate and fall around her ankles He had looked directly into her eyes, and it seemed he wasn t even breathing She had assumed that would go on forever p 37 This we have one of the first references to breathing which here represents how Ira, who is introverted, must erase himself stop breathing in order to enter Maggie s space We also notice that he is oblivious to her stripping, only looking into her eyes We also see Maggie s undying naivete and dreaminess in how she convinces herself that this state will last forever.The funeral is for Max, the late husband of Maggie s best friend Serena Serena s widowhood has made her introspective and we get a bit of a mashup of the Bal de Masques of Proust and Once in a Lifetime by The Talking Heads as she talks intimately in a hallway with Maggie Would would it be like, I wonder Serena said Just to look around you one day and have it all amaze you where you arrived at, who you d married, what kind of person you d grown into Say you suddenly came to while you are oh, say, out shopping with your daughter but it was your seven or eight year old self observing all you did Why you d say Can this be me Driving a car Taking charge p 53 This kind of aside is what makes the novel pleasant and reminds me a bit of Richard Ford s writing in the voice of Frank Bascombe.After the funeral, they gather at Serena s house who, still in a nostalgic mood, shows a homemovie of her wedding making everyone quite uncomfortable Maggie takes it in She glanced around and saw a semicircle of graying men and women, and there was something so worn down about them, so benign and unassuming, that she felt at that moment they were as close as family She wondered how she could have failed to realize that they would have been aging along with her all these years, going throughor less the same stages rearing their children and saying goodbye to them, marveling at the wrinkles they discovered in the mirror, watching their parents turn fragile and uncertain Somehow, she had pictured them all fretting over Prom Night p 87 I found it interesting that so many of the books written by folks in their 40s and 50s look so nostalgically back on high school and realize that I do as well I wonder what period people looked back to in, say, the 19c century before high schools existed Or perhaps they never were afforded the gift of hindsight.Yet another minor disaster occurs around Maggie and Ira who are obliged to leave the wake and head back to Balti Maggie has a moment as they walk back to the car Now they walked slightly apart, not touching They were back to their normal selves Or almost back Not entirely Some trick of light or heat blurred Maggie s vision, and the stony old house they were passing seemed to shimmer for a moment It dissolved into a gentle, radiant blaze, and then it regrouped itself and grew solid again p 121 In the second part of the book, we have a single long chapter from Ira s perspective as he drives back towards Balti and has yet another absurd adventure on the road His chapter is also funny, if less poetic than those of Maggie He is not a dreamer Ira wished Maggie wouldn t keep telling him her dreams It made him feel fidgety and restless p 130 To avoid this feeling of restlessness, Ira always has a few decks of cards standing by and seems to be able to play solitaire on nearly any flat surface he encounters.As we go into the final section of the book, Maggie tries to get her son s ex, Fiona, to come back and give her son, Jesse, another try bringing her granddaughter Leroy along with her This whole section could have also been written by John Updike as it become a very Rabbit like rocambolesque comedy As bungling as she is, Maggie is quite observant Fiona wore rings on every one of her fingers, Maggie saw some plain silver, some set with turquoise stones That was new But her nails were still painted the pearly pink that had always seemed her special color, that could bring her instantly to mind whenever Maggie caught sight of it somewhere p 201 I ll let you enjoy the splendid mess that Maggie makes of the entire situation Sifting through these layers of belongings while Ira stood mute behind her, Maggie had a sudden view of her life as circular It forever repeated itself, and it was entirely lacking in hope p 315 However, the next day there is the trip to take her daughter Daisy to university and her optimism returns as she falls to sleep She felt a little stir of something that came over her like a flush, a sort of inner buoyancy, and she lifted her face to kiss the warm blade of his cheekbone Then she slipped free and moved to her side of the bed, because tomorrow they had a long car trip and she knew she would need a good night s sleep before they started p 327 Thus, the circle was closed.Overall, it was a beautiful story, well told with humor and some touching moments I have not read Where I m Calling From New and Selected Stories so I cannot say whether it was the better choice for the Pulitzer or not I am on the fence as to whether I ll read Tyler s other highly acclaimed book The Accidental Tourist I felt that Anne Proulx was funnier and that Carol Shields weaved together a better family drama, if I think about other women writing similar kinds of books Nevertheless, this was a nice read


  10. K.D. Absolutely K.D. Absolutely says:

    Breathing Lessons is about a couple, Maggie and Ira, who has been married for 28 years Their son, Jesse, a father of a toddler, is facing a divorce Their teenage daughter, Daisy is about to enter college so their house is now an empty nest.Life is a journey and, for a spouse like me, marriage is that part of the journey where you are somebody paddling the boat with you My daughter is also heading to college a couple of months from now Although she will be still be staying with us, I know tha Breathing Lessons is about a couple, Maggie and Ira, who has been married for 28 years Their son, Jesse, a father of a toddler, is facing a divorce Their teenage daughter, Daisy is about to enter college so their house is now an empty nest.Life is a journey and, for a spouse like me, marriage is that part of the journey where you are somebody paddling the boat with you My daughter is also heading to college a couple of months from now Although she will be still be staying with us, I know that time will come that she has to be all by herself so she ll learn to stand on her own feet Seeing her all grown up receiving her high school diploma just the other day made me reflect how time really flew She used to be a 6 y o toddler tightly holding my hand on her first day at that school eleven years ago This morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered where that young father has gone.You can say that this theme is nothing new However, Anne Tyler writes like no other She can make everything interesting to prod you to keep on turning the pages until you re done Why 1 The whole marriage of Maggie and Ira is encapsulated in one day From the time they leave Balti to the funeral of Serena s Maggie s best friend husband to their way back to home On the way back, they meet all sorts of people that can make you reflect on how your own marriage is currently going For me, this made me realize how communication is important I know how is this as a big factor in any relationship but it is not always about listening full ears or talking about how I feel to my wife but also when to keep quiet and ignore the unnecessary Come to think of it, there is really no sure fire hit about communication in a relationship, right It all boils down, I think, to how much understanding we are in tolerating each other s shortcomings 2 I ve read and liked her two other non Pulitzer winners prior to this book In fact, I read all these three books in succession I first started with The Accidental Tourist because it is both a 501 and a 1001 book Unbelievably brilliant Macon Leary stayed in my mind for few days and even up to now I still remember him in his cast Then I followed it right away with Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant because my Goodreads friend said that it is her favorite among Tyler s works That s true The blind Pearl Tull stayed as a prominent image in my brain for some days after It made me appreciate my motherthat I called her up a day after I ve finished reading the book Both books engaged me from page 1 and made me continue reading the book almost without letup Breathing Lessons is structured differently The start is not engaging because it is just about a radio program announcing that Maggie s daughter in law Fiona is getting married again then Maggie hits a truck on her way out from the service shop But the climax builds gradually like that of the movie Thelma and Louise as in turns into something like a travelogue and like the Little Prince meeting all sorts of people on the road It is just different from the first two books and I admire Anne Tylerbecause she does not stick to one structure or one formula There are those recurring characters or events like the incorporation of songs or that minor character who sleep walk that reminded me of Ezra Tull in Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. But aside from those, everything is new and if you cover Anne Tyler s name on front of the book, Breathing Lessons could have been written by any other brilliant female American author.So why Breathing Lessons There are instances when Tyler made references to breathing but no direct answer I think that it is for those who leave relationship for the reason that they could not breath. Ira Mason, the husband, feels that he should have married Anne Landers but he chose to marry and stick with Maggie For 28 years, he could have felt that it was a mistake but he stayed He thought, I know he must have thought, of leaving but he stayed Why Anne Tyler knows and they are the lessons that she will make you reflect on while reading this book


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Breathing Lessons ➻ [Reading] ➽ Breathing Lessons By Anne Tyler ➰ – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk Maggie Moran s mission is to connect and unite people, whether they want to be united or not Maggie is a meddler and as she and her husband, Ira, drive miles to the funeral of an old friend, Ira cont Maggie Moran s mission is to connect and unite people, whether they want to be united or not Maggie is a meddler and as she and her husband, Ira, drivemiles to the funeral of an old friend, Ira contemplates his wasted life and the traffic, while Maggie hatches a plan to reunite her son Jesse with his long estranged wife and baby As Ira explains, She thinks the people she loves are better than they really are, and so then she starts changing things around to suit her view of them Though everyone criticizes her for being ordinary, Maggie s ability to see the beauty and potential in others ultimately proves that she is the only one fighting the resignation they all fear The book captured the Pulitzer Prize for literature in.

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  • Mass Market Paperback
  • 338 pages
  • Breathing Lessons
  • Anne Tyler
  • English
  • 01 December 2019
  • 042511774X

About the Author: Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University She has published novels, her debut novel beingIf Morning Ever Comesin Her eleventh novel,Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.