Cover image for Noah's compass a novel
Title:
Noah's compass a novel
Author:
Tyler, Anne.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Audio, [2009]

â„—2009
Physical Description:
8 audio discs (9 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Summary:
Upon waking up in a hospital bed with a major headache, recently retired teacher Liam Pennywell can't seem to remember how he got there. However, as he investigates the lapse in time, the outwardly miserable Liam is forced to come to terms with his life.
General Note:
Title from web page.

Unabridged.

Compact discs.

Duration: 9:00:00.
Language:
English
Genre:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780739384770
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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Summary

Summary

From the incomparable Anne Tyler, a wise, gently humorous, and deeply compassionate novel about a schoolteacher, who has been forced to retire at sixty-one, coming to terms with the final phase of his life.
Liam Pennywell, who set out to be a philosopher and ended up teaching fifth grade, never much liked the job at that run-down private school, so early retirement doesn t bother him. But he is troubled by his inability to remember anything about the first night that he moved into his new, spare, and efficient condominium on the outskirts of Baltimore. All he knows when he wakes up the next day in the hospital is that his head is sore and bandaged.
His effort to recover the moments of his life that have been stolen from him leads him on an unexpected detour. What he needs is someone who can do the remembering for him. What he gets is well, something quite different.
We all know a Liam. In fact, there may be a little of Liam in each of us. Which is why Anne Tyler s lovely novel resonates so deeply."


Author Notes

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 25, 1941. She graduated from Duke University at the age of 19 and completed graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a librarian and bibliographer.

Her first novel, If Morning Ever Comes, was published in 1964. Her other works include Saint Maybe, Back When We Were Grownups, Digging to America, Noah's Compass, The Beginner's Goodbye, A Spool of Blue Thread, and Vinegar Girl. She has won several awards including the PEN Faulkner Award in 1983 for Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, the 1985 National Book Critics Circle Award for The Accidental Tourist, and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons. The Accidental Tourist was adapted into a 1988 movie starring William Hurt and Geena Davis. In 2018 her title, Clock Dance, made the bestsellers list.

(Bowker Author Biography) Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. "Back When We Were Grownups" is her 15th novel; her 11th, "Breathing Lessons", won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ever since the 1964 publication of her first novel, If Morning Ever Comes, on up to her triumphant Digging to America (2006), Tyler has been writing fluent and droll tales about endearing eccentrics, the pull and push of family life, and the ups and downs of solitude, camouflaging keen inquiries into the mysteries of existence with nimble dialogue and antic plots. In Tyler's eighteenth novel, Liam Pennywell, a 61-year-old philosopher who has never worked in his field, loses his fifth-grade teaching position. He stoically gives up his roomy Baltimore apartment for a smaller, shoddier place; falls gratefully into bed on the first night in his new place; and wakes up in the hospital. He has stitches in his head and hand and can't remember a thing about what happened. This lost time profoundly disturbs him and precipitates a fascination with an odd duck named Eunice, who works as a rememberer. As Liam, a curmudgeonly romantic, frets about erased memories and pursues the increasingly enigmatic Eunice, his precious privacy is violated by his three bossy daughters and ex-wife in a farcical series of invasions. Liam's gradual realization that he has missed much more than one night has subtle but profound metaphysical implications. Only Tyler could write such a gently hilarious and wise comedy of obliviousness and discovery.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2009 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Like Tyler's previous protagonists, Liam Pennywell is a man of unexceptional talents, plain demeanor, modest means and curtailed ambition. At age 60, he's been fired from his teaching job at a "second-rate private boys' school" in Baltimore, a job below his academic training and original expectations. An unsentimental, noncontemplative survivor of two failed marriages and the emotionally detached father of three grown daughters, Liam is jolted into alarm after he's attacked in his apartment and loses all memory of the experience. His search to recover those lost hours leads him into an uneasy exploration of his disappointing life and into an unlikely new relationship with Eunice, a socially inept walking fashion disaster who is half his age. She is also spontaneous and enthusiastic, and Liam longs to cast off his inertia and embrace the "joyous recklessness" that he feels in her company. Tyler's gift is to make the reader empathize with this flawed but decent man, and to marvel at how this determinedly low-key, plainspoken novelist achieves miracles of insight and understanding. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

"In the sixty-first year of his life, Liam Pennywell lost his job." Echoing loudly the cadences of biblical prose, Tyler's opening sentence portends Liam's ominous downward spiral. Soon after he's forced into early retirement from a second-rate private boy's school, Liam moves to a smaller apartment. Once unpacked, he lies down to sleep and wakes up the next morning, head sore and bandaged, in the hospital. With no recollection about how he ended up there, Liam wanders through his days searching, much like Noah scanning the desolate waters for land. Along the way, he meets Eunice, who cannot prod his memory of that night but does stir some of Liam's other long-forgotten feelings. Working at her characteristically leisurely pace, Tyler poignantly portrays one man's search for wholeness and redemption as he picks up the shards of a life shattered by the crashing waves of aging. Unlike similar Updike and Roth characters, who worry more about their inability to perform sexual athletics any longer, Tyler's character struggles with the visceral loss of identity brought on by forced retirement and the indignities of memory loss. Verdict Another winning effort by Tyler; for readers of Reynolds Price's The Promise of Rest and early Tyler novels such as Dinner at Homesick Restaurant. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09.]-Henry Carrigan, Evanston, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

In the sixty-first year of his life, Liam Pennywell lost his job. It wasn't such a good job, anyhow. He'd been teaching fifth grade in a second-rate private boys' school. Fifth grade wasn't even what he'd been trained for. Teaching wasn't what he'd been trained for. His degree was in philosophy. Oh, don't ask. Things seemed to have taken a downward turn a long, long time ago, and perhaps it was just as well that he had seen the last of St. Dyfrig's dusty, scuffed corridors and those interminable after-school meetings and the reams of niggling paperwork. In fact, this might be a sign. It could be just the nudge he needed to push him on to the next stage--the final stage, the summing-up stage. The stage where he sat in his rocking chair and reflected on what it all meant, in the end. He had a respectable savings account and the promise of a pension, so his money situation wasn't out-and-out desperate. Still, he would have to economize. The prospect of economizing interested him. He plunged into it with more enthusiasm than he'd felt in years--gave up his big old-fashioned apartment within the week and signed a lease on a smaller place, a one-bedroom-plus-den in a modern complex out toward the Baltimore Beltway. Of course this meant paring down his possessions, but so much the better. Simplify, simplify! Somehow he had accumulated far too many encumbrances. He tossed out bales of old magazines and manila envelopes stuffed with letters and three shoe boxes of index cards for the dissertation that he had never gotten around to writing. He tried to palm off his extra furniture on his daughters, two of whom were grown-ups with places of their own, but they said it was too shabby. He had to donate it to Goodwill. Even Goodwill refused his couch, and he ended up paying 1-800-GOT-JUNK to truck it away. What was left, finally, was compact enough that he could reserve the next-smallest-size U-Haul, a fourteen-footer, for moving day. On a breezy, bright Saturday morning in June, he and his friend Bundy and his youngest daughter's boyfriend lugged everything out of his old apartment and set it along the curb. (Bundy had decreed that they should develop a strategy before they started loading.) Liam was reminded of a photographic series that he'd seen in one of those magazines he had just thrown away. National Geographic ? Life ? Different people from different parts of the world had posed among their belongings in various outdoor settings. There was a progression from the contents of the most primitive tribesman's hut (a cooking pot and a blanket, in Africa or some such) to a suburban American family's football-field-sized assemblage of furniture and automobiles, multiple TVs and sound systems, wheeled racks of clothing, everyday china and company china, on and on and on. His own collection, which had seemed so scanty in the gradually emptying rooms of his apartment, occupied an embarrassingly large space alongside the curb. He felt eager to whisk it away from public view. He snatched up the nearest box even before Bundy had given them the go-ahead. Bundy taught phys ed at St. Dyfrig. He was a skeletal, blue-black giraffe of a man, frail by the looks of him, but he could lift astonishing weights. And Damian--a limp, wilted seventeen-year-old--was getting paid for this. So Liam let the two of them tackle the heavy stuff while he himself, short and stocky and out of shape, saw to the lamps and the pots and pans and other light objects. He had packed his books in small cartons and so those he carried too, stacking them lovingly and precisely against the left inner wall of the van while Bundy singlehandedly wrestled with a desk and Damian tottered beneath an upside-down Windsor chair balanced on top of his head. Damian had the posture of a consumptive--narrow, curved back and buckling knees Excerpted from Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.