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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Roastbeef's Promise: When Your Dad's Dying Wish Is to Have His Ashes Sprinkled in Each State, What's a Son to Do?

As long as I can remember, road trip books have been among my favorites. Something about that kind of mini-adventure particularly appeals to me, and reading books about hitting the road has led me to several memorable road trips of my own. Up to this point, though, all of my favorite road trip books have been nonfiction, whether they involved cross-country walks, hitchhiking, driving or even boating.

Now comes Roastbeef’s Promise, David Jerome’s first novel, a classic road trip adventure that I plan to place on the shelves alongside my nonfiction road trip favorites for eventual rereading. It is that good.

Roastbeef Hume, although he knew it was coming, is somewhat shocked when the nursing home calls to tell him that his father is dead. The elder Mr. Hume, at the time of his death suffering from Alzheimer’s, believed himself to be Franklin Roosevelt and that his son was one of his presidential aides. When his father, in the guise of President Roosevelt, directed him to spread his ashes, when the time came, over the 48 states he had governed, Roastbeef played along and promised to get it done.

Thus begins the road trip of a lifetime for young Roastbeef Hume who, with some relief, drops out of college and hits the road on what will turn out to be a 15-month adventure to scatter the 3/5 of his father’s ashes the rest of the Hume family agrees to let him have. Armed with loads of good intentions, very little cash, a beat up old Hyundai automobile, and no idea of what he is getting himself into, Roastbeef begins a series of adventures that will at times see him penniless, on foot, a crime victim, a beneficiary of the kindness of strangers, and enjoying every minute of his quest to honor his father’s last wish.

Along the way he will meet some of the nicest, but quirkiest, citizens the United States has to offer. He will visit Mount Rushmore, Graceland, Indianapolis Speedway, Key West, Las Vegas, and numerous little out-of-the-way places known to very few outsiders where he will use his imagination to decide how best to leave some of his dad’s ashes behind. Among others, he will meet a van full of frat brothers and a convertible full of sorority sisters, a lesbian college softball coach, a young man who uses his wedding-crashing skills to eat better than he can afford to eat on his own, an expectant couple rushing to Las Vegas to be married, and a crop-duster pilot.

Roastbeef, as will the reader, learns a lot about human nature and the basic goodness of most people and, despite his setbacks, he comes to realize that “getting there” is the most important part of any journey. Roastbeef’s Promise had me laughing out loud more than once and I believe it to be a book that will appeal to road warriors and wanna-be road warriors of both sexes. This one is real fun.

Rated at: 5.0

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