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.
From the very first page of Redhead by the Side of the Road, I was totally engaged by Micah, a trademark Tyler character full of odd, compulsive qualities that made me enjoy following along with his routines, feeling how ordinary and yet extraordinary his traits were. As we meet other family members, we begin to see how Micah’s strict routines are his way of dealing with the chaos he sees around him, especially in his family.
I liked how gradually Micah began the process of reassessing the choices he has made and even his interpretations of events in his past. Slowly the understanding he develops brings about some tiny changes in the routines that felt comfortable until they started to seem restrictive.
The humanity in Micah was so lovable and yes, maybe annoying at times, that I felt the need to reach out to him. To protect him from himself.