Top positive review
Tyler Does it Again!
Reviewed in the United States on April 7, 2020
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 more 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!