I should call this "the Luke Tull" edition. Do you know Luke? I've been reading Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Anne Tyler's 1982 novel about the Tull family. Each chapter is narrated by a different family member:
1. Pearl Tull, the motherThe Beginner's Goodbye, Anne Tyler's 2012 novel. It's a new book, so I'm limited to seven days. I put aside one book and started the other. I was reading along and got to page 57, where I read this:
2. Cody Tull, her oldest son
3. Jenny Tull, her daughter
4. Ezra Tull, her youngest son, who is Pearl's favorite
5. Cody Tull, again
6. Pearl Tull, again
7. Jenny Tull, again, now Dr. Tull, a pediatrician
8. Luke Tull, son of Cody
Not half an hour later, the phone rang again. This time it was TULL L. I answered, but I was warier now. All I said was, "Hello?"Wait! "Tull L." on the caller ID is Luke. That would be Luke Tull. That's when I made the connection that these two novels are by the same author. That's when I realized both novels are set in Baltimore, Maryland. That's when I remembered I don't usually read two novels at the same time. But I did, and now the same character is in both books. But there's a 30-year gap between books, and I haven't finished the first one. I haven't even finished Luke's chapter! In Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, chapter 8 starts with Luke in his early teens:
"Hi, Aaron, it's Luke."
The summer before Luke Tull turned fourteen, his father had a serious accident at the factory he was inspecting.The Beginner's Goodbye, Luke owns a restaurant. Wait! How'd that happen? Luke's uncle Ezra owned a restaurant in the earlier book. Is this the same one? A different restaurant? Now I wonder if I should finish the earlier novel before continuing this new one.
And then I made another connection. The wife of Aaron, the main character in The Beginner's Goodbye, is/was a pediatrician. (The book starts with her death, so "was" a pediatrician is correct.) Jenny Tull, in Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, is a pediatrician. Is that how they know each other? Is that how they became friends, through Luke's aunt Jenny and Aaron's wife?
I don't know if Luke Tull is merely a minor "friend" of this protagonist (Aaron) or if he's important to the story. Does it matter? Maybe not, but it's a curious problem to encounter.
Here's my solution. With about 80 pages to go, I think I'll finish the earlier novel. Then I'll finish the 2012 novel. What do you think?
[CORRECTION, afternoon: I stand corrected by today's New York Times review of the new book. Aaron's wife Dorothy was an oncologist, a cancer doctor, not a pediatrician. The two novels have already blurred in my mind. I've been reading the earlier one today and will finish it soon.]
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