✓ Redhead by the Side of the Road ñ Download by ✓ Anne Tyler From The Beloved And Best Selling Anne Tyler, A Sparkling New Novel About Misperception, Second Chances, And The Sometimes Elusive Power Of Human Connection Micah Mortimer Is A Creature Of Habit A Self Employed Tech Expert, Superintendent Of His Balti Apartment Building, Cautious To A Fault Behind The Steering Wheel, He Seems Content Leading A Steady, Circumscribed Life But One Day His Routines Are Blown Apart When His Woman Friend He Refuses To Call Anyone In Her Late Thirties A Girlfriend Tells Him She S Facing Eviction, And A Teenager Shows Up At Micah S Door Claiming To Be His Son These Surprises, And The Ways They Throw Micah S Meticulously Organized Life Off Kilter, Risk Changing Him Forever An Intimate Look Into The Heart And Mind Of A Man Who Finds Those Around Him Just Out Of Reach, And A Funny, Joyful, Deeply Compassionate Story About Seeing The World Through New Eyes, Redhead by the Side of the Road Is A Triumph, Filled With Anne Tyler S Signature Wit And Gimlet Eyed Observation Full disclosure, and borrowing from Stephen King s Misery but not in a CREEPY way I m Anne Tyler s biggest fan I think she s the Jane Austen of our time So it s no surprise that I was poised to love her newest novel, Redhead by the Side of the Road , and love it I did I read it in one day with that familiar push pull of wanting to both devour and savor think of a thick slice of your favorite cheesecake.
Micha Mortimer is a 40 something handy man with a side gig called The Tech Hermit a business offering personal IT Tech help to the public He s written a manual called First, You Plug It In I guarantee, most of us will see something of ourselves in Micha s clients Tyler s strength is in her character development We are privy to Micha s thoughts, but we know when he s totally miss reading a situation We know what Micha s long term girlfriend is getting at when she tells him that she s afraid of being evicted from her apartment But sadly, Micha is clueless Micha doesn t always see things as they are hence the titular Redhead by the Side of the Road I won t spoil that delightful detail Micha s family has labeled him finicky and a fussbudget , and I admit that some of his habits resemble my own I prefer the term organized The Mortimer family will remind readers of many of Tyler s trademark families Like most families, the Mortimers believed that their family was fascinating than anybody else s How universally true is that The fact that we love Tyler s families is because we often see our own reflected This description hit home with me As a rule, conversations in this family didn t so much flow as spray up in bursts here and there, like geysers This too short I m not ready to let go, novel is BRIMMING with characters, some of whom we only know for a few pages Only Anne Tyler can make you fall in love with, or be annoyed by, or detest, a character in such a short time Creating rich and interesting characters I refuse to say quirky because Tyler herself says Aren t we all Now, THAT S TALENT Tyler fans will delight in this perfect story, and for anyone reading this review who has yet to read an Anne Tyler novel, this is a perfect one to start with You are in for a treat The only place I went wrong, he writes, was expecting things to be perfect.
I remember being in my early teens in school and our English teacher making us read Anne Tyler s Digging to America I remember rolling my eyes, along with my classmates, because we were forced to read something so insufferably boring about everyday people living their lives and interacting with each other So dull Well, I don t know if it s because I m on my way to becoming a boring old person these days, but I have been wholly charmed by both of the two Tyler books I ve read as an adult.
Redhead by the Side of the Road is a little book with a lot of quiet power A novella, I imagine, though I don t know the exact word count It s a book about a middle aged man called Micah Mortimer He s a self employed techie with a business aptly called Tech Hermit He likes order and organization Everything in his house and in his life has its place and each day is part of a strict cleaning schedule Thursday, for example, is kitchen day.
Micah exasperates those around him, though he cannot understand their frustration with him Even his somewhat finicky girlfriend is growing tired of all his ways It reminds me of several other books that are intimate character portraits of outsiders who struggle to connect with other humans Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, A Man Called Ove, for example but this one is subtler and less sensationalist than either of those don t get me wrong, I really loved both those books.
It is so tempting to look for hidden messages in books And if this book does indeed have a message, I truly cannot decide if it is a caution against perfectionism and rigidity, or instead an appeal for understanding of those oddballs who have their daily lives planned down to the second The meaning of the title suggests the former and Micah s way of life does hold him back in many ways, but this portrait of him is undeniably a compassionate one Maybe there is no message Just a moving story about a person who marches to his own beat.
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As a long time fan of Anne Tyler, I was excited to read an advanced copy of her newest novel which takes us back to her beloved Balti with another quirky character and I wasn t disappointed I couldn t help but root for Micah Mortimer in spite of his idiosyncrasies He has a girlfriend that he can t bring himself to call girlfriend at his age of 44, but a lady friend He has a family filled with sisters and their husbands and children Yet, from the beginning, Micah in his neat, routine filled life seemed to me to be such a lonely man Within the first few pages I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about Micah what he looks like, where he lives, what he does for a living, his daily routines, but of course there s to learn about this guy At 44, set in his routines, he really doesn t want a messy life, both literally in how he keeps his basement apartment and in his relationship and in his connections with people including his family It feels as if he s stuck in place, until a young man shows up on his doorstep, thinking that Micah might be his father Is it too late to to realize just how lonely he is and how distant from the people in his life I recommend reading it to see what a wonderful job Tyler does in depicting an everyday life and character and making it feel so important in the landscape of our humanity Tyler is a prolific writer and I was surprised when I looked back to see that including this one, I have read twenty one of her novels over the years I m a fan to say the least and I suspect that other Tyler fans will rejoice with this short but affecting novel While the stories are different, I couldn t help but remember how much I loved some of her earlier books, especially Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and The Accidental Tourist.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Knopf Publishing Group through Edelweiss.
Anne Tyler excels in her grasp of the low key ordinary everyday lives of her characters and their relationships, as she demonstrates in this beautifully observed and astute novel that focuses on 44 year old Micah Mortimer He is living in a ultra clean, well ordered, basement flat in Balti, a maintenance superintendent of his block of apartments, whilst running his one man tech business, Tech Hermit, addressing the tech needs and repairs of his local clientele His OCD daily routines are adhered to rigidly, from his early morning run, to putting out the trash bins, and to the various aspects of cleaning his apartment His finickiness makes him the butt of good natured family banter and teasing, unlike him, his sisters, Ade, Suze, Liz and Norma with their families are the complete opposite of him with their messy homes and chaotic lives Micah has been in a relationship with school teacher, Cassia Slade, for three years, emotionally, he is naturally inclined to keep his distance from others, although he cannot escape the likes of Yolanda, one of the tenants, who regales her latest dating experiences and her unflagging optimism in the face of so much failure He shows compassion towards the cancer suffering Luella Carter, and imagines himself being congratulated by the traffic gods for his safe, considerate and cautious driving Life begins to slip away from him when Cass informs him of her fear of eviction after her cat, Whiskers, is discovered and the son of an old college flame, Lorna Bartell, the rich and entitled 18 year old, Brink Bartell Adams, turns up out of the blue on his doorstep Cass is less than impressed when Micah treats her dilemma so lightly and fails to step up by offering her a home with him, whilst Brink is convinced Micah is his father, even though he had never slept with Laura.
Micah becomes the conduit for Brink reconnecting back with his parents, he finally opens up about the problems he is facing at college, and Micah learns that his perception of his and Laura s college relationship was far from accurate When Cass breaks up with him, Micah is bewildered as to the reasons why, and slightly miffed that his family is taking her side His carefully ordered life begin to fall apart as the emotional messiness of life cuts deep, he really loves Cass, and desperately misses her, as he imagines his barren future without her He begins to yearn for company to assuage his loneliness, will he be able to overcome the habits of a lifetime to get Cass back This is a sublime read with oodles of charm, of a middle aged Micah, who begins to embrace the natural messiness and chaos of life and relationships Highly recommended Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC.