Seed Amid the Thorns © 2021, 104,000 words, 1 illustration
Here is a saga of the Sundering Sixties: how Kennedy's Peace Corps mission to "make the world a better place" was fractured by Johnson's Vietnam War into opposing factions that since have festered in our nation's marrow in a manner remindful of the fall of Rome. When young Gideon Gust, facing a miserable life in the derelict dells of his natal Appalachia, learns of a jungle paradise in Venezuela "where everything is perfect", he embarks on an overland odyssey that mirrors the aspirations of every disenchanted soul when something better calls elsewhere. With his windshield as a looking glass, he enters a world filled with lovers, drug dealers, con artists, insurrectionists, bullets, a timely nun, hopeless poverty one moment and ageless paradise the next, often amid the very alive ruins of an ancient civilization. His search, in which he discovers himself more than anything else, chronicles the social shaping of an Everyman that is relevant in any time on any soil.
Gideon's journey should appeal to anyone who enjoys a road story, a love story, a history of an era that profoundly influences our own, a story of how a despairing person finds his place in the world, and a novel that is inspiringly environmental —all in 104,000 words.
Due to its broad social and historical canvas, this novel resembles Steinbeck's epic, The Grapes of Wrath. You could call Gideon Gust the Tom Joad of southern Mexico. The novel also twins Cheryl Strayed's Wild in how it begins with Gideon's mother's death (same age, same killer) that sends him on his search (though he doesn't lose six toenails along the way). This work also has the makings of a major environmental novel since National Geographic, Jan 2016, page 2, said,"A new religion based on the environment could emerge in the next decade or two." This book does this today.