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Wright, Richard B.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1984. 180pp, cloth, $16.95, ISBN 0-7715-9825-4. CIP

Reviewed by Joan VanSickle Heaton

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

Opening the covers of Tourists is rather like turning on the television and having the power and tuning knobs fall off. The book draws its thin plot from the weakest offerings of prime time and rerun tube fare. The situation around which this comedy revolves includes two couples who meet on vacation in tropical Mexico. In brutal contrast with the loud, glad-handing midwestern salesman is the bookish, stern boys' school teacher. The combination of these two grating personalities is designed to produce friction, but as for "wit," as the cover review promises, Wright's heavy-handed style needs a television laugh track to simulate any mirth.

The story is told from the point of view of a Mr. Chips character from his sanctuary in a Mexican prison. After a week's compulsory fun with the gauche strangers from Nevada, he came to the end of his limited patience and murdered them all, including his very available wife. Because the reader knows the outcome of the plot from the very start, the tiresomeness of its unfolding, without the benefit of a commercial break, brings to mind Loveboat repeats, characterized by adolescent humour and a good deal of "naughty" parts.

Ted, the salesman, exhibits some interesting manic qualities; however, they are never developed and the reader feels cheated out of a bizarre little diversion in the novel. The other characters are one-dimensional and not very interesting. Furthermore, much of the story is told in dialogue; since the characters' speech patterns are not differentiated, it all blends into an amorphous pool. Descriptions might come straight from travel brochures.

In a word, the novel is unimpressive. As with television, where one might pull the plug on such tedious ramblings, this book has covers one can close without leaving the Laz-E-Boy. Not recommended.

Joan VanSickle Heaton, Sydenham H.S., Sydenham, Ont.
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