Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Accidental Tourist

'Macon sat next to her with a magazine he'd found rolled up in one of her pockets. He saw that The Police were experiencing personality conflicts. That David Bowie worried about mental illness, that Billy Idol's black shirt appeared to have been ripped halfway off his body. Evidently these people led very difficult lives. He had no idea who they were.' The Accidental Tourist,
Anne Tyler

Some regard Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant as Anne Tyler's greatest novel. It's a little sombre for me. The Accidental Tourist is my favourite of the eight or nine Tyler novels I've read. It's the story of a blossoming love affair between middle-class pedant Macon and streetwise, extrovert Muriel. Macon writes tourist guides for people who don't like to travel and Muriel has half a dozen low paid jobs. They meet when she trains his psychotic (but lovable) dog, Edward.

Edward has a nasty habit of lunging at people on bikes, cornering family members in the laundry room and 'treeing' people ie chasing them up trees. Although the novel has tragic elements - Macon is grieving the loss of his son and the subsequent break-up of his marriage and Muriel is a single mother who has had to fight for everything - it is a wonderfully comic novel.

Geena Davis played Muriel in the 1988 film. I've never seen the film but I suspect Geena Davis is rather too pretty for Muriel as described in the book. She is a wonderful creation, over-dressed, too much make-up and hair, smart, tough and transparent.

Virginia Woolf said of Jane Austen that she is a writer of whom 'it is hardest to catch in the act of greatness.' This could also apply to Anne Tyler. A great writer but you just can't see how she does it.


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Oh, you have no idea how excited I am that you posted this review! I've always wanted to read The Accidental Tourist, yet I forget every time I'm in the library. I have seen the movie, and from what I recall, Geena Davis did a pretty good job of the quirky traits it appears this character has. I'm jumping over to Goodreads to put it on the list, thanks :)

AJ said...

My favorite scene in The Accidental Tourist is when Macon takes Muriel's son shopping for clothes. Having said that, my favorite Tylers are Dinner, Saint Maybe and Patchwork Planet.

Anbolyn (Gudrun's Tights) said...

I've only read 1 Anne Tyler novel, Ladder of Years, and I didn't really like her writing style. She is praised so much, though, that I think I should try her again some day. Maybe in 2012?

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

Great review. I read A Patchwork Planet when I was in elementary school, and I haven't read anything by Anne Tyler since then. Your post makes me want to read her other work. :)

A Bookish Space said...

A lovely review. I bought this a couple of years ago but haven't got around to reading it just yet. Your review has reminded me that I really should get around to reading this!

LizF said...

This is one of my favourites along with Saint Maybe and Patchwork Planet.
I haven't read many of her earlier books though which is something that I must remedy.
I love your quote about Anne Tyler - I much prefer a writer like her to those who feel that they have to turn literary somersaults to prove how clever they are in every paragraph.

Sunday Taylor said...

I love this book by Anne Tyler and it may be my favorite one by her. Though St. Maybe is a favorite of mine also. Love your comparison to Jane Austen, yes with both of them, it's so hard to figure out how they do it!

Anonymous said...

It was so long ago that I read The Accidental Tourist, but, I love it still and appreciate your review here. I should give it another read sometime. Like a few others, it is my favorite along with St. Maybe.

I actually thought Geena Davis was good in the movie. just quirky enough and William Hurt pained enough.

Penny said...

I've read many of Anne Tyler's books and this one, which I remember enjoying, was ages ago. You've put me in the mood to re-read it, now!

Penny said...

Sorry, I clicked 'send' too soon and my name didn't come up properly!

Anonymous said...

I love The Accidental Tourist. The movie is also very good: I hope you have a chance to see it.

Vintage Reading said...

Natalie, I loved Geena Davis in Thelma and Louise, I imagine she would be great as Muriel. The book is highly enjoyable please post a review.

AJ, I loved that part in the book, too. Also, I loved the antics of Edward. Saint Maybe is on my tbr list.

Anbolyn, I don't think Ladder of Years is her best book. A woman just abandoning her family seemed far-fetched to me. You might like Patchwork Planet if you decide to try again.

Darlyn, I love Patchwork Planet. I'll look out for AT reviews on your blog.

A Bookish Space - I know, so many books so little time!

LizF, I'm really looking forward to Saint Maybe. So many Tyler fans seem to like it. Oh, yes, the best writers are subtle IMO!

Sunday Taylor, I suppose that's why I'm not a writer! Feeling all the Saint Maybe love!

Lifeonthecutoff, oh yes, I do admire Geena Davis - just think she is too good-looking for Muriel as described in the book! Saint Maybe up next!

Ooh, Penny I'd love to read your unique take on Anne Tyler!

frisbee, I love 80's movies! Pretty in Pink was the soundtrack to my youth (blush)

litlove said...

Yay! My favourite too! I also loved Ladder of Years and Saint Maybe. I haven't seen the film of this, though, although I'd like to.

Anonymous said...


The Accidental Tourist is my favorite book by Anne Tyler. It's poignant, funny realistic, sad, and so on.

Geena Davis was actually perfect in the movie. She was much younger then, and acted fairly wacky, and looked the part.