Redhead by the Side of the Road is the story of a very ordinary man. So ordinary in fact that the narrator of the opening and closing sections of the book questions “what goes through the mind of a man like Micah Mortimer?” Narrator’s musings over, the reader is then invited into the world of Micah and his thoroughly average life.
He has a steady job, a home, a vibrant family (somewhat at odds with his life of convention and order), and a girlfriend, although he openly struggles with the nuances of their relationship. He does the same things at the same time every day until one morning he arrives back at his apartment from his daily run to find a young man, Brink, on the doorstep who claims to be his son.
What follows is a narrative of what it is to be Micah Mortimer. What he thinks about, why he does some of the things he does and the minutiae of his daily life. He learns lessons along the way and recognises what he wants in order to be happy with his lot in life but that is all that really happens.
Anne Tyler has made her name from writing stories about people without the flash and drama of many of her contemporaries. Tyler’s books are neat little volumes which focus more on the dialogue and on the character than on exciting plot and unexpected twists and this in turn lays them bare; reliant on the high quality of writing only.
The reader is drawn into the free flowing style of the prose and is more taken in by Micah than it may initially appear; particularly apparent when the novel ends rather abruptly and the reader is left wondering what happens next. Not much probably and so that is the tale – what it is to be perfectly ordinary and perfectly happy with the little things in life like a coffee percolator and a clean kitchen.