How does a man addicted to routine cope with the chaos of everyday life? Macon does his best. He writes Armchair Tourist guidebooks that soothe the travel-hating business man. Even when his son, Ethan, is murdered and his wife leaves him, Macon folds his anguish neatly back into place and adapts the household routine on to more efficient lines. So when he meets Muriel, dog trainer from the Meow-Bow dog clinic - thin, chaotic, outrageous, vulnerable - he considers that his defences against love and pain are in excellent working order. Bending glorious comedy with aching sadness, Anne Tyler's novel maps out the landscape of a man's hesitant heart with tenderness, sharpness and unputdownable truth.
How do "impossible" couples evolve? In this most recent, luminous novel by Tyler, a "fairly chilly" man, muffled in loneliness, learns that a man and a woman can come together "for reasons the rest of the world would never guess." One can leave the principality of self to tour another's - to love "the surprise of her. . .the surprise of himself when he was with her." Macon Leary, married to Sarah, is an author of travel books for businessmen whose "concern was how to pretend they had never left home" - who want safe and comforting accommodations and food, who want to travel "without a jolt." Macon and Sarah, devastated by the senseless murder of their 12-year-old son in a fast-food shop holdup, are about to part. Sarah will leave this man that she claims remains "unchanged," who refuses to argue with the knowledge that the world is vile. Immobilized by a broken leg (was that accident an unconscious wish?), Macon will settle in with the family he started with - two brothers (one divorced) and sister Rose - in ultimate safety, where like plump, brooding fowl, the four deliberate in soothing converse, rearrange the straws of domesticity, Enter the "impossible" Muriel Pritchett, shrill as a macaw, single mother of a pale, wretched young boy, scrabbling for a living at various jobs, and existing messily on a cacophonous Baltimore street. Muriel has arrived at the Leary compound to whip into line Edward, Macon's pugnacious Welsh corgi who's fond of treeing bicyclists and family members. Muriel cows Edward while talking nonstop, and gradually Macon will find himself in "another country" of noise and color, where red slippers with feathers are necessary accessories to a woman in the morning. From a perspective where Macon feels he's a "vast distance from everyone who mattered" and a marriage where he and his wife seem to have "used each other up," Macon will find in foreignness his own "soft heart." Again in Tyler's tender, quiet prose, a delicate sounding of the odd and accidental incursions of the heart. Tone-perfect, and probably her best to date. (Kirkus Reviews)
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: 4th May 1995
Dimensions (cm): 20.0 x 13.1 x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.252