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The Accidental Tourist Mass Market Paperback – May 7, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Scarred by grief after their 12-year-old son's senseless murder (he was shot by a holdup man in a Burger Bonanza), Macon and Sarah Leary are losing their marriage too. Macon is unable to cope when she leaves him, so he settles down ``safe among the people he'd started out with,'' moving back home with two divorced brothers and spinster sister Rose. Author of a series of guidebooks called ``Accidental Tourist'' for businessmen who hate to travel, Macon is Tyler's focus here, as she gently chronicles his journey from lonely self-absorption to an ``accidental'' new life with brassy Muriel, a dog trainer from the Meow Bow Animal Hospital, who renews and claims his heart. Not a character, including Macon's dog Edward, is untouched by delightful eccentricity in this charming story, full of surprises and wisdom. All of Tyler's novels are wonderful; thisher tenthis the best yet. BOMC main selection. Janet Wiehe, P.L. of Cincinnati & Hamilton Cty.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


It leaves one aching with pleasure and pain.”
The Washington Post

“Hilarious . . . and touching . . . Anne Tyler is a wise and perceptive writer with a warm understanding of human foibles.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Comic . . . Sweetly perverse . . . A novel animated by witty invention and lively personalities.”

“Anne Tyler [is] covering common ground with uncommon insight. . . . Convincingly real.”
People --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (September 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425092917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425092910
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,246,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is her 17th novel. Her 11th, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. A member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1985, this thoughtful character novel focuses on Macon Leary, a travel writer who hates to travel, a man who has gone through life observing what is happening, but who has never been truly engaged. Compulsively tidy, Macon has always believed that it is possible to order one's life so effectively that the untidiness, or chaos, that throws life into confusion can be avoided. And then his beloved 12-year-old son is cold-bloodedly murdered in the senseless robbery of a burger joint while he is away at camp for the first time.

It gives away nothing of the plot to say that this event totally undoes Macon and his wife, and their polite and predictable marriage goes into a tailspin. When the novel opens, Macon and Sarah have decided to separate, with Sarah getting her own apartment (where she can be as messy as she wants) and Macon remaining in the house with his son Ethan's undisciplined dog Edward. In fact, Macon has moved back with his sister and brothers in the family house, to recuperate from his physical wounds--an accident in which he breaks his leg-- and from his emotional wounds.

Then into his life comes Muriel, a divorcee with an over-protected, allergic, and hypersensitive son. She is a dog trainer, a flake, the only person willing to undertake the task of civilizing the aggressive, sometimes vicious "pet" that lives with Macon.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Nirit on December 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love this book! I've read it dozens of times. At first glance, it's fetching and readable, but look beyond the surface - some passages are near masterpieces. Look for Macon fixing the sink with Alexander, and Macon shopping for clothes with Alexander. This book also gives a believable and touching description of a person changing. Just follow Macon's thoughts and see how they change with time. I think this is Tyler's best (and I've read them all).
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It opened my eyes to interpersonal mess-ups in a new way and helped me understand the crucial difference between romance and love. It's also one of the few books I've ever read from cover to cover, without even skipping sentences. (Usually I skip whole chapters if nothing seems to be happening.) The funny thing is, it's not exactly action-packed, it just gives you a good look "under the hood" of this world. To me, the rave reviews are deserved and I want to add my own five stars. To the author: thank you for surviving whatever you had to go through to understand human nature so well!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on July 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I had seen the movie "The Accidental Tourist" so many times that I never realized that I had not read the book! What a treat to find a Tyler book that I had not read.
As usual, Tyler pulls us into the world of her characters and makes us part of their lives. How she does this, time after time, astounds me. The characters who populate her books are eccentric but nevertheless are endearing--and are always original.
Here we have Macon Leary (which could have been spelled leery) a travel writer who really hates to leave home. He writes books for people who are just like him, who really just want all the comforts of their familiar home no matter where they are. They have no interest in exploring or seeing the sights of a new place.
Macon is a man who is uncomfortable with his life, his surroundings, his work, his associates, and even his dog, Edward. Social interaction is not his forte, nor his family's, most of whom are as socially inept as he is. He dislikes any kind of change, is compulsive, and is stodgily set in his ways. The systems he devises to make life easier are hilarious, such as agitating his clothes underfoot while he takes a shower!
But his usually sedate life takes many twists and turns in the course of this novel, during the year or two after his son's brutal murder. He is forced to examine his marriage and his relationship with the eccentric Muriel, the likes of whom he has never encountered--she is impulsive, messy, pushy, and talks his ear off.
Muriel presents Macon with a very different way of living and he needs to decide if he can handle this. Tyler presents his struggle in the most charming way and makes these characters so real to the reader.
Another Tyler gem!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schwinghammer VINE VOICE on December 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
I reread THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST as part of a writing exercise, and guess what? It was better the second time around.
The novel begins with Macon Leary and his wife Sarah in a car returning from a vacation that was supposed to help them deal with the murder of their son, Ethan. Macon doesn't want to talk about it because that would force him to deal with his feelings. Sarah asks for a divorce.
The other main character in the novel shows up when Edward, Ethan's dog, begins to act up, assaulting Macon's boss, Julian. He calls in a dog trainer and this is where the novel really begins to heat up. She recognizes Macon as a possible catch and she's not the type of person to be denied. If you've seen the movie, she's nothing like Geena Davis. She's more of a trailer-park type who loves thrift stores. She has fly-away hair that refuses to take a comb. When Sarah decides she wants Macon back, the conflict becomes one of who will he choose, Sarah or the bohemian Muriel? Muriel shows her pluck when she follows Macon to Paris where he's working on an update of a guidebook for businessmen, hence the title, the ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. Macon hates Paris; he pretty much hates every place that isn't Baltimore. He thinks the people are rude and ethnocentric, but every single Parisian he encounters when in Muriel's company is a saint. She helps him see the City of Light through her eyes. She even finds a thrift shop in Paris.
I was most impressed by the job Tyler did with her minor characters. Edward the dog holds the novel together. Without him, Macon would never have met Muriel. Every time the novel needs an addition boost, Edward provides it. Then there's Rose, Macon's spinster sister, whose marriage to Julian creates an additional complication for Macon.
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