“Lucky Ride is a bang-zoom road trip novel with the queasy high-flying pace of Easy Rider and the breakneck prose of On the Road.”
– Douglas Cole, author of The White Field
“With Lucky Ride, Terry Tierney has written a classic road novel that captures the spirit of the late sixties the way Kerouac did with the fifties . . . an epic story of loss and redemption.”
– Henry Hitz, author of Squirrels in the Wall: A Novel in Stories
Terry Tierney’s 2020 debut poetry collection, The Poet’s Garage, was a nominee for the Pushcart Prize, and according to the Midwest Poetry Review, “At once both lyrical and metaphysical, the poems . . . are woven together with a lithe descriptive magic peculiar to Tierney’s work, leaving us wanting more of the poet’s proactive and provocative memories as we turn the last page.” Now, Tierney brings that same lyrical touch to his Vietnam-era debut novel, LUCKY RIDE (Unsolicited Press; on-sale December 28, 2021; ISBN: 978-1-950730-93-3).
This is the story of Patrick “Flash” McCarthy, a young man recently back from the Navy, having been stationed on a remote Aleutian Island called Adak. Though the memories of his time in the service are most notable for the marijuana and LSD he and his fellow Seabees took, Flash remembers them fondly as he struggles to settle back into post-war life in Binghamton, New York with his wife Ronnie. When he learns Ronnie has been having an affair with her boss, the revelation, combined with a general sense of restlessness and malaise he can’t shake, propels him to plan a cross country trip to see an old Navy buddy in California. When another Navy comrade, Rick, shows up in Binghamton with an interstate weed delivery and offers him a ride as far as Fort Worth, the die is cast, and the two men set off, each hoping to quiet their own demons on the speed-fueled road trip of a lifetime.
As might be expected of a trip between two old friends sharing a not-insignificant quantity of drugs, things quickly go off the rails, and Flash and Rick find themselves dodging a highway stalker. Relieved by the close call, Flash leaves Rick behind in Fort Worth, and begins to hitchhike to California before narrowly escaping being arrested by a Texas Ranger for any number of offenses he has committed on the trip, He catches rides with an array of colorful characters, including two men fleeing an assault charge in Tennessee and a construction foreman having problems with his son, which leads Flash to reflect on his relationship with his own father. A self-styled guru named Joshua and his band of followers take Flash into their marijuana-filled van, but he declines the invitation to join their group, knowing that his destiny lies elsewhere.
As the trip progresses cross-country, with nothing but miles of open road and whatever drugs he’s ingested, Flash has plenty of time to reflect. He remembers the early days with Ronnie, when they were two young, free spirits in love, before the realities of the war and real life intruded. In Phoenix, he hooks up with an old friend named Donna, and recalls the wild night he spent with her, her husband Walter, and Ronnie, before realizing that night is best left a memory. Finally arriving in Ventura, California, Flash meets with his friend, Jack Ferro, and begins to contemplate a life away from the failure of his marriage in Binghamton, filled with the carefree vibes of the Cali sunshine. But reality soon intrudes on his California dreaming, and, out of money and unable to find a job, Flash makes the decision to head back to New York. Ronnie offers reconciliation, and Flash must decide if he still trusts the seductive pull of the irresistible campus radical he married or if he prefers the open road, the chance of a new beginning, and another lucky ride.
Terry Tierney was born in South Dakota and raised in Minneapolis and Cleveland. After serving in the Seabees, he received a BA and MA in English from SUNY Binghamton, and a PhD in Victorian Literature from Emory University. He taught college composition and creative writing and later survived a series of Silicon Valley startups as a software engineering manager. His stories have appeared in Fiction Pool, Jersey Devil Press, Blue Lake Review, Eunoia Review, Fictive Dreams, Literally Stories, SPANK the CARP, Big Bridge, and other publications. He is the author of the Pushcart Prize-nominated poetry collection, The Poet’s Garage, Lucky Ride, and a forthcoming second novel, The Bridge on Beer River, which will be published in 2023. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
LUCKY RIDE is now available for purchase wherever books are sold. Paperbacks can be purchased directly from the publisher; ebooks are available through all major ebook retail outlets.
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