Reading Group Center

A Special Note from Anne Tyler, Author of Redhead by the Side of the Road

A Special Note from Anne Tyler, Author of Redhead by the Side of the Road

Dear Readers,

I’ve never really believed in inspiration. For me, plotting a novel feels like hard work, and I have to shove my characters around awhile before they come to life.

Redhead by the Side of the Road, though, was an exception. I was looking out the window one day, debating whether I had another book in me, when a single sentence all at once popped into my head: “You have to wonder what goes through the mind of a man like _____ _____.”
(I didn’t have an actual name yet.)

This was interesting, but not very helpful. Why would you have to wonder? Then here came another sentence: “He lives alone; he keeps to himself; his routine is etched in stone.”

By now, I knew enough to wait. I didn’t have to wait long. “At seven fifteen every morning…”

And I was off and running.

Oh, the book didn’t write itself. There were still a good many missteps and hesitations. But throughout the process, I had the sense that some neutral, anonymous voice was telling me a story. I came to trust it.

Maybe this was a gift of age: I’ve learned to just let things happen. Or maybe — who knows? — it was a random one-time event, and my next book will be a full-on struggle. In any case, I had a wonderful time writing this story down, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

—Anne Tyler

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

“Tyler’s novels are always worth scooping up—but especially this gently amusing soother, right now.” —NPR

Micah Mortimer is a creature of habit. A self-employed tech expert, superintendent of his Baltimore apartment building, cautious to a fault behind the steering wheel, he seems content leading a steady, circumscribed life. But one day his routines are blown apart when his woman friend (he refuses to call anyone in her late thirties a “girlfriend”) tells him she’s facing eviction, and a teenager shows up at Micah’s door claiming to be his son. These surprises, and the ways they throw Micah’s meticulously organized life off-kilter, risk changing him forever. An intimate look into the heart and mind of a man who finds those around him just out of reach, and a funny, joyful, deeply compassionate story about seeing the world through new eyes, Redhead by the Side of the Road is a triumph, filled with Anne Tyler’s signature wit and gimlet-eyed observation.

Read an excerpt | Get the reader’s guide | Buy the book