No one can write about a certain species of prematurely old Baltimore person like Anne Tyler can. Think back to the family in Accidental Tourist, each with their obsessively thorough way of prepping their own baked potato before eating it. Noah’s Compass features another such character: Liam Pennywell, 61 going on 90, recently fired from his job teaching history to 5th graders. He downsizes his life, moving into a smaller rented apartment. But after falling asleep in his new bedroom, he wakes up in a hospital with his head and hand bandaged: his new apartment has been broken into and burglarized, and he was knocked out. Though the police and doctors reconstruct what must have happened, Liam can’t stop trying to retrieve the memory, which leads him on a stalker-like mission to follow an odd woman who he believes is employed as a “rememberer” for a wealthy old developer. Tyler’s characters can be as exasperating as they are memorable, but she makes you care about what becomes of them.
author caricature: Andre Carrilho