The Accidental Tourist

by Anne Tyler

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How is The Accidental Tourist similar to the book Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant?

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Anne Tyler is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Breathing Lessons, and eighteen other books, including Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982) and The Accidental Tourist (1985).

The two books, written back-to-back in that order, both deal with themes of abandonment, failure, death, and family. Each book has examples of the different memories experienced by family members, the loneliness of losing a loved one, and the unique quirks of family members.

In Restaurant, the three children of Pearl Tull each have a different reaction to their abandonment by their father, Beck. One is aggressive, one is passive, and one has trouble settling down. In Tourist, protagonist Macon Leary lives with his strange family after losing his son in a shooting and then his wife when she leaves him. His siblings are obsessive-compulsive and passive-aggressive, making his life difficult.

Both families have great tragedy in their lives -- the Tulls lose their father figure and must deal with Pearl's inability to nurture, and the Learys lose Macon's son and must deal with his own insecurities and handicap. The Tulls try to get their family back together in various ways and fail, while the Learys are forced together against their will, but learn to cope over time.

Both families are also very lonely. The Tulls have no father and so have only the structure of their mother, while the Learys have trouble living together due to their individual problems. Both find ways to reconcile their differences, even if they cannot fully accept each other.

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