KICK THE CAN by Jim Lehrer
Kirkus Star


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Here's a surprise--a cheerful, funny, wonderfully charming account of a spirited one-eyed boy's misadventurous journey through Texas, Oklahoma, and other landscapes of the American Dream in the 50's, in company with a band of endearing Norman Rock-well crooks and cranks, by the co-anchor of The McNeil/Lehrer News Hour and author of one other long-ago novel (Viva Max!, 1966). The narrator, who calls himself "the One-Eyed Mack," is a Kansas State Trooper's son whose lifelong dream--to be a Trooper like his father--is cut down by Jimmy T's bad aim in a game of kick the can; so Mack invents a new dream, to become a pirate, and hops the 1:22 Santa Fe doodlebug to Texas, where he meets--and tells the first lie of his life ("telling the truth was part of my training to be a man of the law") to protect--a ticketless "quick-move shortstop type" con man named Tom Bell Pepper Bowen, youngest son of the Texas "Bad Bowens." From this point on, as Mack and Pepper scrabble through the tiny towns of the Southwest, rescuing eccentrics, burglarizing bus stations and hijacking buses to carry their adoptive misfits to obscure destinations, Mack exerts a beneficent influence on Pepper with his pirate's code: to live outside the law one must be honest. So it happens that when Pepper is arrested for past crimes in Adabel, Oklahoma, at the instigation of a sweet, wildly charismatic Holy Road preacher named Brother Walt, he chooses the Marines and Korea over jail, and Mack takes over Pepper's new dream: to become lieutenant governor of Oklahoma. Mack is the lighter side of Huckleberry Finn--in a novel that is heartwarming and delightful.
Pub Date: May 16th, 1988
ISBN: 1571780599
Page count: 274pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1988


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