renae14, May 1, 2009 (view all comments by renae14)
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler is an intriguing novel about a man named Macon Leary who goes through an emotional transformation. In the process, he stumbles upon a new lifestyle and is able to be the person he realizes he has always wanted to be. Tyler’s style and overall ability to connect with the reader makes this book a bittersweet treasure. Anyone hoping to discover the meaning of life will find the book amazing. Observing the main character’s remarkable journey through life will influence readers to examine their own and possibly discover something inside themselves they had never noticed before.
In the beginning, the main character of the novel, Macon Leary, is a reluctant traveling salesman who finds life to be a complicated mess. After the death of his son a year before, he hasn’t the ability to have any joy living. Macon and his wife, Sarah, soon separate. Macon finds himself living a lonely, disappointing live. He is afraid that his life has amounted to nothing. “Was there any real change?”, Macon questions as he examines his life, “He felt a jolt of something very close to panic. Here he still was! The same as ever! What have I gone and done? he wondered, and he swallowed thickly and looked at his own empty hands” (74).
Then he meets Muriel, a dog trainer who could not be more of a polar opposite of tidy, orderly, and unwilling Macon. “[Macon] was happiest with a regular scheme of things. He tended to eat the same meals over and over and to wear the same clothes; to drop off his cleaning on a certain day and to pay all his bills on another…There was no room in his life for anyone as unpredictable as Muriel” (193), but Macon actually starts falling for this peculiar woman, and she shows him a whole new side of himself. “He loved the surprise of her, and also the surprise of himself when he was with her” (194).
The novel as a whole is written in a very compelling and touching manner. Anne Tyler’s style is flawless. She uses every element to her advantage to further connect with the reader and get her messages across. Even the point-of-view plays an important role. Tyler creatively writes the novel from her own narrative, giving the reader more information than Macon himself would know. At the same time, however, she writes as though she is in the same mindset as Macon so that the reader can get a sense of his perceptions. As Macon changes throughout the book, the reader can experience the change in his view of life as well. Tyler also uses an informal style in her writing, which contributes to the work as a whole. An important aspect of the book is that the readers become attached to the characters. Without Tyler’s use of this sort of laid-back, relatable style, the reader would not be able to warm up to the characters as easily.
Overall, The Accidental Tourist is a delightful and meaningful tale of a man who tries to find out where he belongs and discovers a new meaning of life. Tyler writes in a way that draws the reader into the story and the lives of the characters, especially Macon’s. The main goal of the book is to show both the uncertainties and opportunities life has waiting around every corner for the people willing to take a risk and look beyond the surface. Death can be overcome. Love can be found. Life can be exhilarating. The book has the power to fill the reader with hope for the future, instead of fear- to open their eyes to the chances around them to change themselves for the better. No one should “slip through life unchanged” (129).
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