MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Redhead by the Side of the Road Summary and Reviews

Redhead by the Side of the Road

by Anne Tyler

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler X
Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2020
    192 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

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 Baltimore 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[T]ender and rueful... These chapters are painfully poignant—thank goodness Tyler is too warmhearted an artist not to give her sad-sack hero at least the possibility of a happy ending. Suffused with feeling and very moving." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[P]erceptive...While Micah's cool indifference occasionally feels like a symptom of Tyler's spare, detached style, his moments of growth bring satisfaction. This quotidian tale of a late bloomer goes down easy." - Publishers Weekly

"Tyler's warmly comedic, quickly read tale, a perfect stress antidote, will delight her fans and provides an excellent 'first' for readers new to this master of subtle and sublime brilliance...Tyler's perfectly modulated, instantly enmeshing, heartrending, funny, and redemptive tale sweetly dramatizes the absurdities of flawed perception and the risks of rigidity." - Booklist

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Reader Reviews

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mary c

This is a gem of a novel: witty, moving and wise.
If you want to understand the everyday life of Americans, read Anne Tyler . . . There is no one better at taking the ordinary person—the one we don’t even notice in the supermarket queue—and showing us what lies beneath . . .

Cloggie Downunder

If only this dose of Tyler’s magic had been longer…
Redhead By The Side Of The Road is the twenty-third novel by award-winning, best-selling American author, Anne Tyler. At forty-three, Micah Mortimer isn’t dissatisfied with his life: it may be predictable, but having an adequate place to live, just enough work, and the company of a woman friend suits him fine. Excitement is overrated.

“He and Cass had been together for three years or so, and they had reached re things had more or less solidified: compromises arrived at, incompatibilities adjusted to, minor quirks overlooked. They had it down to a system, you could say.”

Micah exercises daily, eats healthy food and has a series of (not entirely inflexible) routines that give him a sense of control. He makes house calls around the city for his IT business, Tech Hermit and, while being careful not to get too involved, looks after the tenants in his building in his role as unofficial super. From his older sisters and their families, there is a mixture of concern and amusement at the way he lives his life.

Then, in the space of an October week, two unsettling incidents ruffle his calm. Cassia faces the threat of eviction from her apartment because of a secret pet (and Micah’s reactions to this later turn out to be unsatisfactory); and a teenaged boy turns up claiming that Micah is his father.

It is always such a pleasure to read a book by Anne Tyler, and this one has you smiling all the way through, unless you are laughing out loud or saying “oh, dear” or “oh, my”. Nothing terribly dramatic happens, but Tyler’s special talent is making ordinary lives shine.

Tyler is wonderful at character description: “She was so sharp-edged, both literally and figuratively – a shrill, vivacious mosquito of a girl, all elbows and darting movements, and it was a wonder she’d given a glance at a stick-in-the-mud like Micah.”

Micah is quirky but believable and his inner monologue is often particularly entertaining: the remarks he resists making, and the Traffic God who comments on his impeccable driving are two examples.

His bewilderment at human interaction is palpable: “Sometimes when he was dealing with people, he felt like he was operating one of those claw machines on a boardwalk, those shovel things where you tried to scoop up a prize but the controls were too unwieldy and you worked at too great a remove.”

Family gatherings are Tyler’s specialty: “A mahogany side table held a lamp and a pair of pruning shears and a bottle of nail polish. No doubt the living room was equally disorganized, but you couldn’t tell, because it was filled wall-to-wall with people… The general impression, as always, was tumult: noisy, merry, unkempt people wearing wild colors, dog barking, baby crying, TV blaring, bowls of chips and dips already savaged.” As always, many of her characters are a little eccentric, but their observations on life are insightful at the same time as being amusing. If only this dose of Tyler’s magic had been longer…
This unbiased review is from a copy provided by Penguin Books Australia.

SueB

Second chances
Micah Mortimer, aka the Tech Hermit, is just living out his life, mostly clueless, This is a wonderful book for our times, full of truths, and half-truths about our lives. I just felt it was uplifting and a really good read.

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Author Information

Anne Tyler Author Biography

© Diana Walker

Anne Tyler's 50 Year Writing Career

In March 2013, Anne Tyler announced the title of her upcoming novel in an interview with the BBC. She also noted that she didn't want to finish another novel - not even this one. She described the book as a "sprawling family saga," which starts with the present generation and then moves back, one generation at a time. Fortunately, she realized she was only interested in three generations. Before this revelation, she figured A Spool of Blue Thread could go on long enough that she might die before its publication! That way she wouldn't have the hassle of the editing, polishing, promoting and worrying if the book was any good or not.

This sounds like the pressure of thinking up something new and original, combined with her obvious penchant for ...

... Full Biography
Author Interview

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