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Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

‘Misconceptions, second-chances and the sometimes elusive power of human connection’- Tyler’s latest, which has been longlisted for The Booker Prize 2020, delivers exactly what was promised through a set of characters, nuanced and gritty, and starving of love and the most basic of human connections.

 ‘Redhead by the Side of the Road’ is not about a redhead and the road is merely metaphorical. Micah, the ordinary protagonist of a seemingly ordinary story, is self-employed as a Computer technician. He is orderly, principles, and a person of routine. His personal life involves countless broken relationships and his brain-cells are unable to understand why. His family is messy but lively, both of these traits lacking considerably in our protagonist. It looks like he has it under control but as the story unfolds, we realize that ‘under-control’ is, in fact, a sham.

Tyler’s prose is a traditional, free of literary jewels and yet she controls our emotions by moving the characters around in swift, practiced moves. Micah acknowledges his loneliness from time to time but is content with his life and his current romantic interest (he refuses to call her ‘girlfriend’). A character who is self-centered and at times, obnoxious gives this story depth. His encounter with his ex-girlfriend’s son and the events that follow have been written in excruciating detail, exploring or rather, celebrating ever minute of Micah’s ordinary life that borders chaos.

 While this book has a lot to offer if you know where to look, the writing feels disconnected at places, like broken links. Her ‘detached from the world’ protagonist evokes a bittersweet response. The ending, however, is hopeful and full of warmth and Tyler emerges as a notable writer. I would say if you appreciate minuscule details in a story, Tyler must be on your TBR.

Guest Post by- Mridula Gupta 

Mridula Gupta a reviewer and content creator by profession famed for her aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed and exciting captions. She is a fan of historical fiction and Rom-Coms. 

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