The assumption would be that ordinary people aren’t interesting, but Anne Tyler keeps us wonderfully absorbed with this short but thoroughly enjoyable tale about just that – a gem of a read for a lazy weekend.

Readability

★★★★★★★★✰✰

Talkability

★★★★★★★✰✰✰

Den scores

★★★★★★★★✰✰

REDHEAD BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD

BY ANNE TYLER

178 pages

The assumption would be that ordinary people aren’t interesting, but Anne Tyler keeps us wonderfully absorbed with this short but thoroughly enjoyable tale about just that. The Den loved the way you warm towards this middle-aged man living his uneventful monotonous life when a couple of incidents throw his life off course.

Micah is in his forties, leading an unexceptional life as a computer fixer who is obsessed with routine and order. The youngest of a large family, his 4 sisters are all waitresses with chaotic and busy existences. Micah had been the one they hoped would break the mould and do something with his life. Yet these expectations appear to have been unfulfilled as Micah settles for a dependable and comfortable life. When Cass, his woman friend (he refused to call anyone in her late thirties a “girlfriend”) is threatened with eviction, he fails to seize the moment. An unexpected visitor destabilises his equilibrium further. None of these incidents are life changing events, but they are disruptions to a balanced routine which slowly arouse and awaken Micah.

Tyler’s ability to make us so invested in Micah and his routine humdrum life is breath-taking. The Den couldn’t but help feel for this awkward misfit with his blinkered outlook on life. The fact his family love him unconditionally, although he is so different from their outgoing and full family lives means we also root for him, as it becomes apparent, he does care, he just doesn’t seem able to get it right!

Anne Tyler is a master at writing with such empathy about people living unexceptional lives and in Micah, she allows us to be drawn into his mind and soul with a heart-warming humanity. Unsurprisingly, Redhead by the Side of the Road is Booker Longlisted. The perfect read for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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