Englishman Henry Nash was a great fan of things American and even called his sons Salinger (after J.D) and Carson (after McCullers). Unfortunately for them he left for new freedoms in the U.S while they were still in need of a dad. Carson later settled in America himself, but neither son had any relationship with Henry after he absconded. In 2008 when he is 40, Salinger reluctantly accepts an invitation from his older brother to go on a road trip in search of their father. Salinger who takes prozac for his mood swings, arrives in New Orleans trying to keep the peace, but unable to repress sardonic comments about Carson's apparent Born-again optimism.
As financial markets collapse and America is choosing a new president, the brothers spar, compromise and travel by new Lexus and motorbike towards New Mexico, via Dallas, the pueblo at Sky City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Pecos, where one of them experiences some whacky, intense Native American healing. The road trip is not exactly Easy Rider, as the brothers have different attitudes towards their goal and they harbour their own truths about their childhood experiences. Salinger becomes increasingly uneasy about his girlfriend in London not responding to his email messages, and Carson seems impervious to any analysis of the familial baggage and Salinger's Cain and Abel analogies.
When they arrive at the truth, will it set them free?
There is some zippy dialogue and an odiously engaging policeman called Wendell who hinders and helps them on their way. Tim Lott writes well, with a sense of working through the theme of unresolved sibling rivalry conscious and unconscious, the challenges of living with not understanding, of having old assumptions challenged and whether light can break through into the dark places. I also felt I'd been on a bit of a tour of a chunk of America.