Redhead by the Side of the Road

by Anne Tyler

If you’re anything like me you’ll have been tapping your timepiece and peering at your letterbox, awaiting the delivery of Anne Tyler’s latest. She is simply the master of quiet observation. I enjoyed this book so much I wanted to read it again, if only to revel in her finely turned sentences. Micah is a 44-year old handyman who lives in Baltimore: “he lives alone; he keeps to himself; his routine is etched in stone.” From his domestic cleaning routines to his morning run and his simple business as the “Tech Hermit,” life plods predictably along. Then one day his sort-of girlfriend finds herself on the edge of eviction. Shortly thereafter, a mysterious teenager turns up on his doorstep. Suddenly, circumstances have “altered the natural progression” of the life to which he had become accustomed, causing Micah to ponder whether he is actually “one skipped vacuuming day away from total chaos”. Tyler’s supreme lightness of touch is a marvel. Here is a meditation on ordinary life that utterly plucked me from mine.

Reviewed for Zimmermann by Sophie Lee.