Celestial Navigation
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Celestial Navigation

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  2,421 ratings  ·  104 reviews
"Tyler is steadily raising a body of fiction of major dimensions."


Thirty-eight-year-old Jeremy Pauling has never left home. He lives on the top floor of a Baltimore row house where he creates collages of little people snipped from wrapping paper. His elderly mother putters in the rooms below, until her death. And it is then that Jeremy is forced to take i...more
Published by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 1974)
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Feb 11, 2013 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hate in a puddle
Recommended to Mariel by: Sean
Sad people are the only real ones. They can tell you the truth about things; they have always known that there is no one you can depend upon forever and no change in your life, however great, that can keep you from being in the end what you were in the beginning: lost and lonely, sitting on an oilcloth watching the rest of the world do the butterfly stroke.

There's a something that you can have because you gave it to someone, a kind of grace or willing warmth. Something of you to light on someone...more
Derek Emerson
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 Tyle...more
This was brilliant. Tyler's voices are always so beautifully realized. Every character has such a unique point of view and narration. I especially loved the voice of the woman who opened the novel; I could read a whole book about her.

Yes, it was an excellent book, but...

But it left me gazing at one of the unopened bottles of wine when I finished it.

And I finished it before noon.

Draw your own conclusions.
Probably my favorite Tyler novel, for its strangeness, and it's sadness, and it's refusal to compromise on either. A canny look at a mentally ill artist who navigates his claustrophobic world as if wearing heavy boots several too sizes too large on the slickest, thinnest ice. And his house! I recall it as if I had been there, in a dream
I love Anne Tyler's writing style and quirky stories and thought I had read all of her novels but I recently found this one at the friends of the library book sale. Tyler's characters are all dysfunctional in their own way. In this story the main character is Jeremy Pauling, a reclusive artist with agoraphobia who lives in the same house he grew up in with a revolving crew of boarders. He is living his nonconventional life of painting, art students and marketing contest entries when Mary Tell an...more
It is about the difficulty of open emotional communication, the intensity of artistic inspiration, the isolation of an artistic and autistic savant, and the resilience and indefatigability of a woman who seems born to be a mother. Jeremy's life has always been closed off and constricted, but he makes awkward success of his desire to love and protect Mary, a directionless young woman who grows into an earth-mother figure, as he grows into a self-taught, Joseph Cornell-like artist making complex a...more
Ayelet Waldman
This one broke my heart.
Jeremy is a shut-in. He is afraid to leave the safety of his home. This becomes a confrontation when his mother dies and his sisters want to sell the old homestead. But Jeremy is able to make a living as an artist, so he stays. He lives in his own mind, not the moment. He never learned how to intrepret social cues, so he is lost in society. His mother had started a boarding house years ago when her husband left the family. Jeremy continues this practice. It turns out to have an unexpected benefi...more
Ross Fattori
The protagonist of Celestial Navigation is Jeremy Pauling, a reclusive and misunderstood artist who rarely ventures outside of his studio. With a less talented writer, Jeremy's character might have remained a cliché, a starving artist who sacrifices friends and family for the higher calling of his art. But Tyler brings a level of nuance and understanding to this flawed individual and presents him as a multi-dimensional human being.

Admittedly, Jeremy is not a likeable character (he's selfish, ind...more
Come ho già avuto il piacere di constatare la Tyler è un'artista eccezionale. A volte, più che leggerli, i suoi romanzi mi pare di averceli davanti agli occhi come se stessi ammirando dei quadri. Riesce a descrivere i suoi personaggi in maniera così chiara che sembra di conoscerli da sempre! E anche questo romanzo non fa eccezione. Qui, il protagonista è un tipo piuttosto bislacco. A inizio libro sembra quasi che abbia qualche handicap, ma poi si capisce che semplicemente è un uomo incapace di i...more
Jeremy ha 38 anni quando muore sua mamma. Ha sempre vissuto con lei, non si è mai allontanato dall'isolato in cui abita e la sua fonte di reddito sono le persone che da anni affittano le stanze della sua squallida casa. Ad una tratto arriva la giovane Mary con la figlioletta, e lui goffamente se ne innamora, gli sembra la donna più bella che abbia mai visto, inizia a corteggiarla in un modo così impacciato che lei non se ne accorge nemmeno. Lui sa di non essere un uomo attraente nè affascinante,...more
Uthpala Dassanayake
I love Anne Tyler’s writing. I enjoy the manner she gets into different people and view the in their eyes and mind. Everybody has their own perception of everything, any communication is not fully adequate to express your feelings accurately or grasp other persons meaning properly.
In Celestial Navigator, the story of a man(Jeremy) who greatly lacks confident is told by several characters taking turns. But when it is Jeremy’s turn, the story has to be told in third person, because he doesn’t hav...more
Not my favorite Anne Tyler. In fact I would place it as low as it can go, on par with "Patchwork Planet" and "Ladder of Years." There really is no such thing as a bad Anne Tyler novel, but some merely hint at her potential. Such is the case with "Celestial Navigation." It has some of her hallmarks -- Baltimore location, quirky and methodical characters, characters who are stuck in their ways but have the potential to break out into something richer. Such is the case for Jeremy Pauling. Although...more
Almost unbearably sad, a story about two people who need each other and love each other but can't find their way. They misinterpret and misread the cues, both afraid or incapable of speaking their true feelings. A man's desire to be needed, a woman's determination to not be dependent, to not burden him with her need. We can all learn from this wise and truthful tale about our most primitive selves and the misguided way we screw up our lives. I felt myself wanting to hold on to my nearest and dea...more
I wonder, when Anne Tyler wrote this book 40 years ago, she knew meant for her main character to be so clearly Autistic, and not just one of her typical sad-sack loser males? I think the book would read much differently then. What is irritating and lazy in a developmentally typical person is understandable and sad and heartbreaking in Jeremy, given what we know about mental illness and developmental disabilities.
I read this about a decade ago and didn't get it. Turns out that's because I was an ignorant, sheltered teenager who didn't have any way to relate to the characters or their lifestyles. Tyler has a bewitching talent for finding the poignant and poetic in ordinary people living mundane lives. It's really hard for me to say why I like these character so much when they seem to do or offer so little. But it's easy to symphathize with the hero, as I strive to be a shut-in myself these days. Total com...more
38-years old Jeremy Pauling never leaves his home. He lives with his old mother who protects and pampers him since he was born. Jeremy`s world shatters when she suddenly dies. His life is going to change in the moment when he admits two new tenants- Mary and her daughter Darcy. Anne Tyler does a wonderful job in desribing his weird inner life and attempts to reach the world outside him with series of clumsy and sporadic gestures. There is a warm glow of subtle love running through the novel and...more
Irma Lasky
A hard book for me to get into. I could see the sadness coming from a mile away and that usually is enough to make me stop reading. In this case i really liked the characters and wished them well. As usual Anne Tyler builds her characters slowly even though the story moves quickly. It's a story of a disfunctional man who is a functioning artist and a highly functional woman. There are a few other finely drawn characters who have their own lives, but seem to be there to document the lives of Jere...more
Anne Tyler has a gift of understanding phobias, the irrational fear of doing something that the majorty of people find common place routine.
Tyler has Jeremy explain why he doesn't feel the success of acomplishment when he suceeds in walking from his home to the corner and back again, "If he secceeded, in spite of everything, in finishing what he had set out to do, he had no feeling of accomplishment but only a trembling weakness, like someone recently brushed by danger, and an echo of the nause...more
So full of painful truths about relationship, love, honesty, dis-honesty, communication.
Anne Tyler's pragmatism always leaves me a bit chafed, even at her best. Sometimes in a good way, but not this time. Yes, she is incredibly perceptive. Yes, you feel everything the characters feel, but male protagonist was so...blobby? There, I'm making up words to describe toxic characters beyond mundane. Not enough character development to compensate for the lack of progression. I understand it may be brilliant to drive me insane with that lack of progress, but she tortured so many of the othe...more
Sara Trivedi
While reading this book, I really appreciated the subtle humor in Tyler's ever-finicky characters. Somehow, I find myself completely identifying with the main character, while pitying his seemingly empty life at the same time.

Upon finishing the book, I first thought, "Well, what a depressing ending." Later, thinking more about it, I understood it couldn't have ended any other way.

As I read through each of Tyler's books, I find new ways to respect her and appreciate her writing-style. While this...more
Jeremy lives with his mother. Jeremy has never left home. Jeremy's mother dies. This is about Jeremy and his social phobias and his take on the world. At times, I felt like his sister Amanda and wanted to hit Jeremy to break him out of his passive daze but, true to form, Tyler got me to feel compassion for someone so different from me. This is uncomfortable and awkward and a journey into the struggles that were taking place inside the characters as they tried to define their lives in terms of so...more
I loved this book about Jeremy, who, I might say, has a "social phobia" and it costs him big. I felt like this book may have been autobiographical, how an artist takes a little bit from other people's lives to create something new. Jeremy takes little pieces of fabric or other things left by the people in his mother's boarding house and makes collages out of them. It is really about the heart and soul of a very vulnerable person. Because of how Anne Tyler writes, I felt his humanity and related...more
Justine Jennings
Beautifully written but ineffably sad...
Andrew Herren
Don't get me wrong, I love Anne Tyler. I think I have read most of her books over the years, but somehow this one had slipped through the cracks. Let's just say that this was not her best effort. The characters just never seemed to make any sense at all, and were really not even believable human beings. Tyler can portray madness better than most (and that is part of why I love her), but this book was just out in left field. I will give it three stars (a stretch) simply because I love everything...more
Sharon French
Even though I named my son after Searching for Caleb, Jeremy in this book is the Ann Tyler character I relate to the most.

And the story is mine.
Anne Tyler is a good author who creates multi-faceted and unique characters and situations. This book was no exception from that standpoint, very engaging and lots of interesting insights. But I will say it was quite a sad read although probably a good message/reminder of why you shouldn't "miss" others by not being clear in communicating your feelings. Risk of being hurt is a hurdle but utlimately worth the reward of fully realized connections with those you care about!
Still love Anne Tyler. Her characters just seem so real and believable, but her novels are also literary: engaging with the literary tradition, commenting on and modifying literary themes. One of my favorite comments in this book is on heroism. What is a hero? How are literary heroes different from real heroes (or, rather, heroism in everyday life). I was interested to learn that this was Tyler's favorite book after she finished it. I'm not surprised. Loved it.
Margherita Dolcevita
Una sorta di educazione sentimentale di un non più tanto giovane uomo, una specie di moderno bamboccione, che all'inizio lascia un po' interdetti (forse perchè lui stesso lo sembra) ma che poi lentamente e pazientemente (e per una volta il titolo italiano è azzeccato) conquista il lettore e ritrova la cara, solita, vecchia e buona Anne Tyler. Bella anche l'idea della narrazione a più voci, anche se tuttavia questo romanzo l'ho gradito meno di altri.
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Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 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. The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and...more
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