cover image Redhead by the Side of the Road

Redhead by the Side of the Road

Anne Tyler. Knopf, $25.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-525-65841-2

A fastidious everyman weathers a spate of relationship stresses in this compassionate, perceptive novel from Tyler (Clock Dance). Micah Mortimer, 43, makes house calls for his Tech Hermit business and moonlights as the superintendent of his Baltimore apartment building, where the residents observe his regimented routine and wonder, through Tyler’s gossip-inflected narration, “Does he ever stop to consider his life?” The disruptions begin with a call from his schoolteacher girlfriend, Cassia Slade, who is in a panic because she is facing eviction. Then college freshman Brink Adams shows up on his stoop and claims to be his son. Micah knows it isn’t true, because he never slept with Brink’s mother, Lorna, an old girlfriend, but he tolerates the languid, starry-eyed kid who claims to look up to him for living a working-class life and who fixated on a photo of Micah kept by Lorna. After Micah tries to put Brink in touch with Lorna, he disappears. When Cassia dumps him for not immediately offering to let her move in, Micah descends into a funk that just might push him to prove himself worthy of her companionship. While Micah’s cool indifference occasionally feels like a symptom of Tyler’s spare, detached style, his moments of growth bring satisfaction. This quotidian tale of a late bloomer goes down easy. Agent: Jesseca Salky, Salky Literary Management. (Apr.)