The Grand Tour: review

The Grand Tour (NetGalley)
Adam O’Fallon Price
Doubleday

Richard Lazar made his fame and fortune writing tales of his time as a soldier in Vietnam. But now Richard is washed up. He hasn’t The Grand Tourpublished in years, he tends bar part-time, he’s living in a trailer outside Phoenix, and his daughter won’t speak to him. Add to that copious alcohol consumption in his off hours, and you’ve got the picture.

But a call from his agent changes all that. (Or most of it anyway.) Americans are weary of U.S. troops in the Middle East and Richard’s “f***-it” attitude resonates with readers. There’s a big advance and a book tour planned.

Now nineteen-year-old Vance Allerby, president of the Washington Area Richard Lazar Auxilliary, wants more than anything to be a writer. He’s also been designated Richard’s driver at the first stop of the tour and it doesn’t start well. At all. Richard stumbles off the plane after a little too much Ambien and vodka, then proceeds to drink more at dinner, barely making it through his first reading at Spillman College.

Vance’s life is in just as much disarray as Richard’s. He’s dropped out of college, tends rather co-dependently to his mentally ill mother, hasn’t heard from his father in years, and he’s spent every waking hour in the past few months working on a manuscript titled Infinite Galaxies of Sorrow. 

But against all odds these two team up for the book tour. The Grand Tour is not a buddy story, though, but more of an I-can’t-stand-you-why-do-I even-care tale of two misfits thrown together by Fate. But they do–care, that is–in their emotionally unavailable ways and so the novel’s real strength is in watching Richard and Vance come to terms with the mess they’ve made of their lives. And how they each help the other tidy up and get on with the business of living and loving.

I didn’t expect to like The Grand Tour as much as I did, and if pushed I had a few quibbles about the plot towards the end. (Rikers Island? Really?!) The novel’s title and epitaph is a line from a George Jones tune by the same name. Listen. Read. It’s an evocative pairing well worth your time.

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