The Ties That Bind

I couldn’t go naming my blog the Accidental Blogist without ever reading the inspiration for the name, could I? So I selected The Accidental Tourist as book number 49 in my vow to read 52 novels in 2004. Not that it takes much to get me to read an Anne Tyler novel. She has quickly become one of my favorite novelists, and she wrote three of the 49 novels I’ve read this year.

For those of you who have not read the novel or seen the movie yet, Tourist is about Macon Leary, a Baltimore travel writer who hates to travel. He moves through life in a way that avoids any variations to his comfortable routine. This, along with the trauma from the killing of his young son, causes his wife to leave him. After breaking his leg Macon gladly moves in with his equally strange and change-fearing siblings.

He meets up with an unpredictable dog trainer his family has forced him to take his more-crazed-by-the-day pooch to and is fascinated by both her and his attraction to her. He goes happily along with her lifestyle for a while, marveling at the person he could be if he took more risks. But as the book comes to an end his wife decides, on the eve of their divorce, that she still wants to be with him. Familiarity and spontaneity take the form of these two women he must choose between.

It’s never a surprise that a Tyler novel is going to take place in Baltimore and be about family relationships. What has been surprising in the three novels I have read by her is that her stories unassumingly become powerful. And while the first two books of hers I read, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and Breathing Lessons, were slyly funny, Tourist was often laugh-out loud funny. I would say that this was the best of the three.

I have not seen the William Hurt/Geena Davis movie, but I can see the book making a cool little film. If my local Blockbuster has deemed it worthy to keep on their shelves, I want to rent it. Otherwise I’ll have to beg my brother to get it for me on his Netflix account.

I’ve now moved onto Twelve, a strange little novel about an upper class Manhattan drug-dealing teenager. Nick McDonell wrote it when he was just seventeen.


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