Macon Leary hates travelling, but has a job writing books for businessmen who find themselves in unfamiliar places and just want essential information on how to get by in the various cities that they're forced to visit. His son died a year or so ago, and as the book starts his wife leaves him, forcing Macon to cope on his own.
This was the third Anne Tyler book I've read (although it was a few weeks ago now so I can't remember all the details), but possibly as good as Breathing Lessons. Macon is hopeless at looking after himself, and so just drifts along, hoping to be told what to do. He inherits a dog from his marriage, and can't control it, so when Muriel offers to provide some training, he takes her up.
The descriptions of the dog are very funny; in particular I remember when Muriel wanted to stop it barking, and she just yanked on the lead so that it was suspended in the air, with its eyes goggling and tongue out. Macon is shocked and fears for the dog's life, but Muriel just carries on chatting about whatever they had been discussing. Another occasion when the dog was excited, it was described as jumping straight up in the air like those toy dogs connected by a tube to a rubber balloon you can press.
The sections talking about Macon's sister and brothers (who he moves in with) are also very good: the siblings have developed various habits and practices which seem incomprehensible to outsiders, and so it's quite funny when Macon's agent comes to visit and tries to make sense of things.
Completed : 09-Apr-2007