A motivational speaker, who's often on the road dispensing wisdom though he has problems of his own, turns to reviewing hotels online—and Moody tells his story primarily through his reviews.
Thanks for the synopsis, Captain Obvious. The conceit runs deeper, for Moody’s (The Four Fingers of Death, 2010, etc.) Reginald Edward Morse—his trinomial perhaps an indication of Brahmanic tendencies and amplitude of ego—has a seeming need to criticize, sometimes fussily but usually rightly, and moreover to let the world know of it. The M&M cookies are a little stale? Send a dispatch, and then reflect and perhaps grouse: “when I am stressing, in a lecture on motivational speaking, how certain words can do a lot for you, fresh is often a word I often rely on.” Reginald has a few characteristics in common with Anne Tyler’s Macon Leary, though in The Accidental Tourist, Tyler takes a somewhat more forgiving view of us foible-philic humans. As Reginald moves from hotel to hotel and continent to continent (for, as we learn, he’s not confined to North America), we discover, detail by carefully rationed detail, more about his life: he has control issues, he has a checkered family history and a troubled daughter, he often travels with a companion, he has a thing for grits (“and I do not mean cheese grits”). All pretty ordinary, really, the failings and the accomplishments, but Moody offers both a subtle psychological portrait and even the hint of a mystery—“what I would call the mystery of Reginald Morse,” he writes with game-is-afoot breathlessness in an afterword. It’s a slyly delightful turn, considering all we’ve learned about Reginald and his views, whether on hotel pornography or the three chief shortcomings of B&Bs: “throw pillows, potpourri, and breakfast conversation.” To say nothing of gazebos.
Lively and lightly written. Not the strongest of Moody’s books but of a piece with them, offering a sardonic but entertaining look at modern American life.