Book Review: The Accidental Tourist

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Disaster followed disaster…the hero stuck in there, though. Macon had long ago noticed that all adventure movies had the same moral: Perseverance pays. Just once he’d like to see a hero like himself — not a quitter, but a man who did face facts and give up gracefully when pushing on was foolish.

The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler

My TBR list is annoyingly long because I add books to it whenever I chance across a title, no matter who recommends it. Since my ultimate goal is to be well-read and to expand my own realm of knowledge, I try to read whatever I can. In any case, I happened across this book because an excerpt was used in my Metaphor and Language class in university. We dissected a conversation between the protagonist, Macon, and Sarah, his estranged wife, noting the differences between what people literally say and what they actually mean. I enjoyed the class, and for a few days after the exercise I found myself silently analyzing the words of those around me, finding that real life hardly differed from Macon’s situation.

That’s one thing I liked about The Accidental Tourist. Macon, Sarah, and the other characters felt real to me, and despite their differing personalities, I could see slivers of myself and my own friends and family reflected in them. After reading about the adventures of a male impersonator in Victorian London and mouse knights, it felt refreshing to return to more familiar ground. I’m always amused when reading books written in the 80s and 90s – while refreshingly modern, they lack many of the innovations we take for granted today. There are so many passages where Macon and his siblings become lost while driving through Baltimore that Google Maps could easily handle. I found myself wondering how Macon, with his narrow-minded, specific focus on efficiency, would feel about our modern improvements: Google Maps, Tinder, and AirBnB, and how his line of business (writing guidebooks for business travelers) would differ if the novel was written today. Perhaps a clean, minimalist blog?

The novel is fairly predictable, but never boring. The cast of characters is unique (although not too “quirky”, which often irritates me), and the plot speeds along. I was previously unfamiliar with Anne Tyler’s style, but I ended up liking both the content and style, which was often humorous (whether laughing at or with Macon). That being said, it’s not an action-filled book, and I would categorize it as an ultimately forgettable romantic comedy. At 355 pages, though, it’s a quick read, and I didn’t mind the two or so days I spent with it.

YES OR NO?: YES. Although not a necessary read, I enjoyed The Accidental Tourist and plan on reading more of Anne Tyler’s work. Ironically enough I could see myself enjoying it while being a tourist myself – on the plane, or stuck at the airport.

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