Synopses & Reviews
Provocative, poignant, and resoundingly hilarious, The Red-Headed Pilgrim is the tragicomic tale of an anxious red-head and his sordid pursuit of enlightenment and pleasure (not necessarily in that order).
On a sunny day in a business park near Portland, Oregon, 42-year-old web developer Kevin Maloney is in the throes of an existential crisis that finds him shoeless in a field of Queen Anne's lace, reflecting on the tumultuous events that brought him to this moment. Growing up in the suburbs, young Kevin suffered "a psychological break that ripped me from my humdrum existence" mainlining high fructose corn syrup and episodes of The Golden Girls. Thus begins a journey of hard-earned insights and sexual awakening that takes Kevin from angst-ridden Beaverton to the beaches of San Diego, a frontier-themed roadside attraction in Helena, Montana, and a hermetic shack on an organic lettuce farm.
Everything changes when Kevin falls in love with Wendy. After a chance tarot reading lands them on the frigid coast of Maine, their lives are unsettled by the birth of their daughter, Zoë, whose sudden presence is oftentimes terrifying, frequently disturbing, and yet — miraculously — always wondrous.
The Red-Headed Pilgrim is an irresistible novel of misadventure and new beginnings, of wanderlust and bad decisions, of parenthood and divorce, and of the heartfelt truths we unearth when we least expect it.
"The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a revelation that achieves starry dynamo-level energy from the jump. Maloney's prose is sharp and vivid, full of trippy precision, and his story is funny, wild, painful and wise. When the road of On the Road runs into shattered middle age, this book is waiting for you." Sam Lipsyte, author of Hark and The Ask
"The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a fascinating novel about what can happen when you pursue beauty above all else. Money, reality, and corporate jobs are the last thing on this narrator's mind — instead, he'll go wherever love takes him. Kevin Maloney's writing will break your heart in the best way, reminding us how difficult life can be when we follow the path towards meaning, understanding, and belonging." Chelsea Hodson, author of Tonight I'm Someone Else
"The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a funny, raw, eccentric novel that made me laugh out loud frequently as I tore through its pages. What I appreciated most about this bittersweet, darkly comic story, though, is how it is tinged so beautifully with hope in the end." Jami Attenberg, bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All Grown Up
"Unfailingly affable, often hilarious, sometimes harrowing, The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a künstlerroman — a novel detailing a young person's development into an artist — that tells the tale of one tall, white, Boho-American male's staggering path to creative fulfillment. With many detours through the swamps of sex, drugs, farm work, and fatherhood along the way, this novel is filled with deceptively hard-won wisdom, all wrapped in a brightly-colored bow." Jon Raymond, author of Freebird
"Who doesn't love a good disaster story, told with humor and good grace? I really do recommend this book, The Red-Headed Pilgrim, by Kevin Maloney. The main character has hints of those old-school hapless heroes from the pages of Salinger or Brautigan, with a dash of modern day love-able losers like, say, Napoleon Dynamite. It's a drug and sex fueled Odyssey, with way less violence and death, and hardly any monsters, come to think of it. But I believe you'll enjoy it all the same." Arthur Bradford, author of Turtleface and Beyond
"Kevin Maloney has lovingly shoved the great American novel into a tank of LSD and it's crawled out with triumphant stars in its eyes. The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a beautifully melted comic work with a profound and eternal heart." Bud Smith, author of Teenager
"I'm not a grudge guy, but I have one long-standing gripe and it's with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, due to them stiffing me and my pal, Pizza Place, on a tip for a $600 order at the falafel shop in Omaha. Thing is, Kevin Maloney loves them. Namedrops them multiple times in this book. But it's such a goddamn gem of a novel that I can't help but get swept up in the story of Kevin Maloney: poet, Buddhist, 'shroom-tripper, aloof charmer. Makes me want to forgive all past trespasses. Hell, I might even cue up a RHCP song. That one about California." Gene Kwak, author of Go Home, Ricky!
About the Author
Kevin Maloney is the author of Cult of Loretta and the forthcoming story collection Horse Girl Fever. At times a TJ Maxx associate, grocery clerk, outdoor school instructor, organic farmer, electrician, high school English teacher, and teddy bear salesman, he currently works as a web developer and writer. His short stories have appeared in Hobart, Barrelhouse, Green Mountains Review, and a number of other journals and anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Aubrey.