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An alcoholic in decline finds redemption–or maybe just more trouble–in the form of a fetching waitress-in-distress in this charming romance.

Thomas Aquinas “Tam” Malonee is fleeing a failed marriage, as well as the police, for stealing a car and some money from his father-in-law. At a Tennessee diner, he meets Madison Monroe, a blonde, trailer-trash siren who takes his order but also has some specials of her own to request. Tam agrees to drive Madison to Florida so she can take her six-year-old daughter away from her abusive ex-husband. A picaresque road trip ensues. Madison drags Tam to her uncle’s funeral, which develops into a brawl between feuding redneck clans. Tam reunites with his father, a physicist who abandoned the family during his childhood, which develops into an armed confrontation at a strip club. In addition, the pair meet more quirky and enchanting–and occasionally menacing–characters, acquire a basset hound, live off Tam’s budding artistic genius as a sidewalk portrait painter and swap through a string of dicey vehicles, ending with a 1973 Plymouth Fury III stenciled with “Purple People Eater” in white letters on a bright purple background. When they finally arrive in the Sunshine State, a hurricane is brewing, along with a far murkier custody battle than Tam had anticipated. Accardi (Dry Sterile Thunder, 2004, etc.) fills this affecting, shaggy-dog journey with sharp characterizations and mordant comic turns. Madison is winsome, but with a bite, and Tam is a great study in alcoholic self-pity, self-loathing and self-deception.

A funny, poignant story of two flawed souls struggling to put themselves back together.

Pub Date: March 19th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-595-41783-4
Program: Kirkus Indie
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