Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide

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GET THE BOOK

"Breathing Lessons" by Anne Tyler

INCLUSION MILESTONES

1989

• Opening of Chinese-American I.M. Pei's Louvre Pyramid
• Colin Powell first Black Joint Chiefs of Staff chair
• Ros-Lehtinen first Hispanic woman elected to Congress

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AUTHOR INSPIRATIONS

Anne Tyler grew up with her family on Quaker communes in the South and Midwest. Tyler and her own family eventually settled in Baltimore. She became a full-time writer once her daughters were in school.

Featured Reader Wanted!

Featured Reader

Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.

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Ditzy wife, husband with broken dreams on funeral day trip

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“Love is a Many Splendored Thing” funeral duet. Singers are old classmates because husband refuses to sing with his wife.

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Elevation of the ordinary.

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Quick 339-page read. Or a 10-CD road trip.

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Accept. Manipulation does not end well.

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Middle class White couple from Baltimore who meet their White friends, encounter an elderly Black man and his nephew. Sisters of husband are mentally handicapped.

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Figure out a meal you can shop for quickly after a very long day and cook in a hurry for guests who have been tricked into attending your impromptu low-rent dinner party. Ice cream is a must.

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“Past is past... no it's not! People are always fond of saying that, but what's past is never past; not entirely.”

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Somebody’s unfussy dining room or a diner.

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Where is the line between helpfulness and manipulation?
Why was it horrifying to find out the person you treated badly was an elderly Black man?
What’s the appropriate way to interact with a person who is serving you in a diner? What’s the appropriate way to interact with someone you are serving in a diner? Someone who is under your care in a nursing home?
What do weddings, funerals, nursing homes, and child custody battles reveal about relationships?
How can grandparents help grandchildren become inclusive adults?

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Get in the car and drive from Baltimore to rural Pennsylvania and back in a day. Discuss what’s wrong with your family. Count the nursing homes, churches, funeral homes. Be on the look-out for Pepsi trucks. Help a stranger. Turn up for a visit where you have not been invited. Listen to talk radio.

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1994 “Breathing Lessons” TV movie
Three-week run on stage in 2003

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“The Accidental Tourist” is another of Tyler’s family novels set in Baltimore.