Picked this up for £2 in Bargain Books, in what must have been a shop clearance. It’s a book about a man, Smithson Ide, in his mid forties, who is an overweight, alcoholic smoker but who decides, after losing his parents, to ride his bike across America to claim the body of his estranged sister who had been lost for years. And on the way he rides himself fit.
Sort of a Forrest Gump on wheels. On the journey, in his own guileless way, he saves the moral life of a priest, rescues a young boy from a snow storm, reintroduces a wheelchair bound neighbour to community life, and meets his share of hostile and aggressive people too, and gets shot several times.
It’s not a literary masterpiece but it is a gentle, magical and beguiling story which draws you in and holds you throughout.