Free Bird by Greg Garrett

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In an unforgettable first novel that the Austin Chronicle calls funny, surprising, deep, and soulful, Greg Garrett takes readers along on one man’s cross-country pilgrimage from North Carolina to New Mexico; from the depths of despair to a glimmer of hope gleaned from the last place he ever expected to find redemption... With a beautiful wife, a sweet young son, and a position as one of the most promising associates in one of DC’s largest firms, Clay Forester had it all. But that was a decade ago, before a tragic accident claimed his family’s lives, sending Clay on a downward emotional spiral from which he has no desire to recover... Ensconced once again in his mother’s house in his tiny southern hometown, wallowing in guilt, Clay has no responsibilities, no schedules, nobody to be accountable to. He has nothing but his haunting memories, and a half-hearted relationship with a high school flame. Nothing but his music, crooning cover tunes with a childhood friend in smoky redneck bars. Nothing but a yellow 1961 Triumph convertible that refuses to start-Clay’s one memento of the father who abandoned him. As far as Clay’s concerned, he’s hit rock bottom... Then comes the shocking phone call: Steve Forrester, the father Clay always assumed was dead, really is—but only since yesterday. Unmoved by the news that he died with Clay’s name on his lips, Clay only wants to forget the man ever existed. But when the Triumph’s engine mysteriously turns over that very day, he can’t ignore the strange coincidence. Reluctantly, Clay sets out in his father’s car, headed to Santa Fe for the funeral of a virtual stranger. It’s to be a solo journey, but Clay is soon joined by an irresistible three-legged flatulent dog and, at various stops along the way, by an assortment of down-and-out strangers whose shared hopes and dreams give new purpose to his own pilgrimage. As he closes in on his destination, Clay is forced to confront not just the ghost of the father he never knew, but the ghost of the man he himself once was. As murky, long-buried details tumble into the bright southwestern sunlight, Clay begins to understand, at last, that a man’s priorities can become muddled along the way; that a man who should have had everything can suddenly find himself alone. And that only if he finds it in his heart to forgive his father’s sins can he ever begin to forgive his own...

About Greg Garrett

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Greg Garrett is Professor of English at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He serves the Episcopal Church as Writer-in-Residence at the Seminary of the Southwest and as lay preacher at St. David's Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas. He is the author of numerous books, including the critically-acclaimed novel Free Bird.
Published March 1, 2002 by Kensington. 288 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Of course Forester meets many people on his travels and learns something about love and loss from each of them, but even these lessons become particularly heavy-handed when our modern Odysseus passes through Shamrock, Texas, and bumps into Father Tom, a Jesuit from his law school days, who assure...

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Publishers Weekly

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Clay's adventures take yet another turn in Texas, where he meets a former law school colleague turned priest and protester, and the surprises continue to mount in New Mexico as he discovers his father's formidable legacy as an artist and local philanthropist.

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