“Redhead by the Side of the Road” by Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler is a very popular writer, much loved for simple and erudite descriptions of American small town life. Her latest novel is somewhat on the short side, but saying that had it been any longer a good succinct tale could have become spoilt by peripheral detail.
The principal character Micah Mortimer is a 40 something bachelor, who lives in the basement of a small apartment block where he acts as the keeper and janitor. His principal employment is working as the Tech Hermit repairing computers for the less able user, or like many of us, the more confused user.
There are several client calls described which make a good aside to the principal parts of the story, being in two parts.
Micah’s relationship with his girlfriend, [an expression he would not use], of the last 3-4 years, Cass, a teacher who he manages to upset in a big way when she is threatened with becoming homeless, and the ramifications of this trauma and how it unsettles Micah and indeed his sister’s and their families.
The second strand revolves around the sudden appearance of a young man Brink, who claims he is his son. Micah extracts the boys history and still puts him up for one night even though while Brink’s mother, Lorna, was a college sweetheart, there is no way he is related to Micah. However, as the story unfolds they do make contact as Lorna tries to find out why her son has run away from college and home.
These two strands weave together intriguingly in Anne Tyler’s more than capable hands to make a refreshing easy read. Whilst it is not her best book, Tyler fans will not be disappointed.