Macon Leary writes guidebooks, but he has never visited the places he writes about. He does phone interviews and writes sterile reviews of hotel rooms, restaurants and scenery he has never seen. This is a metaphor, obviously, for how Macon lives his life. He is an armchair quarterback, so to speak.
The book opens as Macon and his wife Sarah are on the brink of disaster in their marriage. Their young son has been killed in a freakish way (shot in a fast food restaurant during the time when those shootings were happening randomly around the country), and they are both left shaken to the core. The events that happen next are both quirky and bizarre, sometimes even funny, but also life-changing and intense.
Macon and Sarah separate, and Macon is left with the couple's unruly dog. To help him cope with the dog, he hires Muriel Pritchett, a "dog whisperer" of sorts, but also a character of epic proportions. Muriel becomes involved in Macon's life, and her problems and eccentricities draw him out of his shell. She is sometimes tacky and always unsophisticated, and she has a young son who is fatherless and socially stunted. These things keep flowing over into Macon's life, and eventually he and Muriel fall in love. Macon must then decide between Muriel and Sarah, and also between the existence he has had before his son's death or the newfound "real" life he has started to live.
This report prepared by Lori Cossens