How does a man addicted to routine - a man who flosses his teeth before love-making - cope with the chaos of everyday life?
With the loss of his son, the departure of his wife and the arrival of Muriel, a dog trainer from the Meow-Bow dog clinic, Macon's attempts at ordinary life are tragically and comically undone.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 416 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 03/01/1998
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099480013
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.
Review by buzzwords
Loved the book, loved the movie.
Review by Miro
Like his brothers and sister, Macon Leary slides into a rigid and stultifying familiarity, but finally wakes up, makes a decision, and chooses life. I didn't find it very credible, but it's a perceptive and beautifully written story.
Review by SandDune
This was the first Anne Tyler that I read, years and years ago, probably not that long after it was published in the 1980's: I enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it again now. Macon Leary is a conservative and pedantic man, who despite having a dislike of travel himself is the author of a series of successful travel books, the 'Accidental Tourist' series. But rather than waxing lyrical about the delights of the country being visited, the whole purpose of the 'Accidental Tourist' is that they enable the American businessman to spend his time abroad cocooned from the very country he is visiting. No local delicacies are mentioned in Macon's guidebooks, no interesting sights, his readers just want everything to be as familiar as possible and that's exactly what he gives them.Driving back in the rain from an unsuccessful trip to the beach, Macon's wife announces that she wants a divorce: a surprise to Macon despite the strain put on the marriage by the death of their 13 year old son Ethan in a random shooting the year before. But the stress of coping with his marriage break-down, as well as his continuing grief for his son, threatens to overwhelm Macon, and the routines and fondness for method which had always characterised his life seem to be descending into mania:'Well, you have to carry on. You have to carry on. He decided to switch his shower from morning to night. That showed adaptability, he felt- some freshness of spirit. While he showered he let the water collect in the tub, and he stalked around in noisy circles, sloshing the day's dirty clothes underfoot. Later he wrung out the clothes and hung them on hangers to dry. Then he dressed in tomorrow's underwear so he didn't have to launder any pyjamas. ...he had developed a system that enabled him to sleep in clean sheets every night without the trouble of bed changing. ... What he did was strip the mattress of all linens, replacing them with a giant sort of envelope made from one of the seven sheets he had folded and stiched together ...'But when an accident forces Macon into the home of his three equally conservative siblings, the agressive behaviour of his dog Edward (clearly suffering from some of the stresses that are affecting Macon) becomes unacceptable. And so into his life comes the dog trainer Muriel, and Muriel, a single mother in her twenties, is everything that the middle-aged Macon is not: lively, impulsive, messy, noisy, living a hand to mouth existence with any number of low paid jobs. It is clear that Macon's friends and relations consider her a completely unsuitable match for him, but Macon himself is more unsure ...
Review by thorold
Another odd but entirely believable Baltimore family is put under Tyler's ironical microscope. The Leary siblings all have an obsessive need to control their environments and have a way of gravitating back home, even when they're supposed to be married. So far Macon has been the only one to escape, but now his marriage to Sarah is in difficulties after the tragic death of their teenage son.