Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Notes For February 17th, 2010

This Day In Writing History

On February 17th, 1986, The Accidental Tourist, the acclaimed and bestselling novel by Anne Tyler, won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The Accidental Tourist told the story of Macon Leary, a travel writer obsessed with neatness whose well-ordered life suddenly turns to chaos. First, his 12-year-old son Ethan, away from home for the first time, is murdered in cold blood by a gunman during a robbery at a restaurant. Before he can come to terms with his grief, Macon's threadbare marriage collapses and his wife Sarah leaves him.

Left alone with Edward, his son's undisciplined and aggressive dog, Macon ends up breaking his leg in an accident. He moves back into his family's home with his sister and brothers while he recuperates from both his physical and emotional wounds. Into Macon's life comes more chaos, in the form of Muriel Pritchett, a dog trainer willing to try and civilize the unruly Edward.

Muriel is a flaky, eccentric divorcee and single mother whose son is overprotected, oversensitive, and allergic to dogs. As he works on the next volume of his popular "Accidental Tourist" travel guide series, Macon finds himself falling in love with Muriel.

In 1988, a acclaimed feature film adaptation of The Accidental Tourist was released. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, working from a screenplay by Frank Galati, the movie starred William Hurt as Macon Leary and Geena Davis as Muriel Pritchett, in a performance that won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

The title of Anne Tyler's novel would later be attributed to a man appearing in an eerie photograph that spread through the Internet. The photograph, allegedly developed from a camera found in the debris at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, depicted a young male tourist dressed in a wool cap, heavy coat, and backpack standing on the observation deck of the World Trade Center. Below him, a jet plane is seen flying toward the building.

As the photograph circulated through the Internet, the man in it was dubbed the Accidental Tourist. The picture was proven to be a fake. A Brazilian businessman named Jose Roberto Penteado claimed to be the prankster behind the photograph. When he started to get media attention - including an offer to appear in a Volkswagen commercial - a 25-year-old Hungarian named Peter Guzli came forward and claimed to be the real Accidental Tourist, and provided the evidence to prove it.

Since then, other pranksters have created Accidental Tourist spoof photographs and posted them on the Internet. The spoofs featured Peter Guzli's image superimposed over such events as the sinking of the Titanic, the John F. Kennedy assassination, and the destruction of Air France Flight 4590. One picture found the Tourist at a Ku Klux Klan rally.

Quote Of The Day

"It's true that [writing is] a solitary occupation, but you would be surprised at how much companionship a group of imaginary characters can offer once you get to know them." - Anne Tyler

Vanguard Video

Today's video features the trailer for the acclaimed 1988 feature film adaptation of The Accidental Tourist. Enjoy!

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