Monday, March 23, 2009

Book Review: The Accidental Tourist

This will be short.  (And, Dew, I promise to get to work on that empty shelf.)
Accidental Tourist was precisely the kind of book (on Kindle, of course) one escapes into.  It's not much of a thinker; still, it's refreshingly honest and possesses impeccable characterization.
The protagonist (who happens to be quite the antagonizer) and his wife of 20 years separate a year after losing their only son (a teen) after a fast-food robbery gone sour.  He spends a year apart from his wife during which he meets a younger woman who reads like white trash and she becomes the classic figurative breath of fresh air.  Ultimately, he ends up back with his wife and has to evaluate what his life has meant, etc.
The protagonist and his siblings live together in their grandmother's home for much of the time he's separated from his wife and provide some serious comic relief from the despairing undertones of the story.  You see, they are grammar Nazis.  You know that scored serious points with me.  They're always correcting the English of each person they come in contact with.
"Human beings can only go 'into' houses, cars, and coffins, Susan."
...or,  when the protag refers to his mother, after correcting her grammar:
"Wen Macon was small, he used to worry that his mother was teaching him the wrong names for things.  'They call this corduroy,' she'd said, buttoning his new coat, and he had thought, But do they really?" 
The book is very well written, the diction is superb, and it receives deserved kudos from all of the usual book review suspects, including the likes of John Updike.  I'd recommend it as I say above, for an escape.  It won't cause anyone to wax philosophical but it could give or reaffirm life's little intuitions.  Which leads me to my favorite sentence:
"He began to think that who you are when you're with somebody may matter more than whether you love her."
Not sure if I completely agree with him ^there, but it was a perfect realization for him at the time and it made me smile.
I'm giving Kindle a brief rest (except for my New Yorker subscription) to read a book on my shelf that's been unfinished since summer, Ethan Frome.

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