A bitingly funny, smart and moving road novel about two hapless lost souls—an alcoholic Vietnam veteran turned bestselling author, and his awkward, shy college student superfan—who form an unlikely connection on the world's most disastrous book tour.
Richard Lazar is advancing in years but regressing in life. After a career as a literary novelist that has ground to a halt and landed him in a trailer in Phoenix, Richard is surprised to find sudden success publishing a gritty memoir about his service in Vietnam. Sent on a book tour by his publishing house, Richard encounters his biggest (and really only) fan: an awkward, despondent student named Vance with issues of his own (an absentee father, a depressive mother, his own acute shyness). Soon Vance has volunteered to chauffeur Richard for the rest of the book tour, and the two embark on a disastrous but often hilarious cross-country trip. When things go wrong, Richard and Vance forge an unlikely bond between two misanthropes whose mutual insecurities and disdain for the world force both to look at each other, and their lives, in a more meaningful way.
As they reach the end of the book tour, The Grand Tour ultimately becomes a moving tale of unlikely friendship that should catapult Adam O'Fallon Price into the company of such masters of All-American dyspepsia as Sam Lipsyte, David Gates and Walter Kirn.
Overweight, middle-aged, and alcoholic, Vietnam veteran and failed writer Richard Lazar is living in a trailer in the Arizona desert in 2005 when his Vietnam War memoir is published and becomes a smash hit. Richard is launched on a cross-country book tour of signings and readings, a disaster waiting to happen. In Price's excellent debut novel, he nails Richard's unpleasant character perfectly, a weak and flawed man who disappoints everyone around him, especially himself. At a reading at a college in Washington, Richard meets Vance Allerby, a college dropout and wannabe writer, who idolizes Richard and is his most ardent fan. These unlikely pals, the cynical drunk and the naive idealist, team up for Richard's book-tour road trip (Richard hates to fly and Vance likes to drive). Together they embark on an alcohol-fueled adventure filled with embarrassing public pratfalls, funny and poignant barroom philosophy, and the uncomfortable realization that they actually need each other, even for just a few months. Richard is suddenly famous and can't handle it, but Vance is a lonely guy whose only manuscript Richard has thrown into the trash. Vance has always wanted to be an ideal version of Richard but is utterly disappointed that his idol is a bum. Still, the two make it to New York City, where a surprise ending caps off the story.