A middle-aged man still stuck in adolescence gets a wake-up call.
Micah Mortimer runs his own meagre mr fix-it small business, a technical help service for befuddled older clients. He scoots around town, a removable Tech Hermit sign on top of his car, solving computer glitches for the technically illiteratey. The scenes where Micah's mystified yet cheery customers wrestle with their computer outages and breakdowns are hilarious and heartwarming. Who hasn't encountered a parent or grandparent who feels certain technology is playing mischievous tricks on them?
Micah hasn't really got his life in order. In his mid-forties, he still lives like an adolescent in his small apartment, using an outmoded coffee machine from a previous tenant. He has a “woman friend” ( the use of “girlfriend” is deemed too immature) named Cass. She is a teacher, good-hearted and generous, we later learn. Cass is experiencing troubles with her rented apartment and when Micah fails to appreciate the difficulties of her situation, she gets exasperated.
Fans of Anne Tyler won't be disappointed with this charming little gem. All of her special ingredients are present: realistic dialogue, well drawn and believable characters, easily recognisable situations and a general warmth of tone.
Redhead by the Side of the Road is just what a really good book should be: enjoyable, cathartic and uplifting. It will make you happy to be alive.
Redhead by the Side of the Road, by Anne Tyler. Chatto & Windus. $29.99
Release date 15th April
Review by Chris Saliba
North Melbourne Books