KING OF THE ROAD by Paul Hemphill


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A sentimental, predictable, workmanlike story of the last ride of an old trucker--from the author of The Sixkiller Chronicles (1985), Long Gone (1979) and the nonfiction Me and the Boy (1986). Forty-five-year-old Sonny Hawkins is a would-be writer (a historical novel has been rejected by 18 publishers) and teacher of English at a Florida community college. During his summer break, he goes back to his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama--but it's not exactly a pleasant visit. His mother is cruelly afflicted with Alzheimer's, and his father, Jake, is careening around getting himself drunk and in trouble. The solution? Have Jake--a trucker all his life--rev up his old Dixie Redball for one last trip. Hauling a load of tires, Sonny takes Jake all the way to Nevada, showing him a vanishing world of old-fashioned truck stops, dodging weigh stations and state cops, downshifting expertly on the slopes. Unfortunately, Jake is killed when one of the giant tires falls on him during unloading, but Sonny at least has the pleasure of knowing his father died doing what he loved best. The melodramatic ending finally tugs at the heart strings, but Hemphill simply works too hard getting there.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1989
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin