Art critic Clement Greenberg, champion of abstract expressionism, is more interested in silencing his rival Harold Rosenberg than with the threat of nuclear destruction.
Greenberg is driving from New York to the Emma Lake artist colony in Saskatchewan, where he intends to silence Rosenberg once and for all. With him is infamous Marxist Louis Althusser, who escaped prosecution for strangling his wife in France on an insanity plea. Althusser is heading to a Saskatchewan hospital for LSD therapy.
Pursuing them is Jean Claude Piche, a veteran of the conflicts in Indochina and Algeria, contracted to execute Althusser for the unpunished murder.
The 1950s were Greenberg's decade. Yet by 1962, everywhere Greenberg looks he is bedevilled by Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup cans, just as everywhere Althusser looks he sees capitalist decay.
Jean Claude catches Greenberg and Althusser at Niagara Falls. The enigmatic arch patriot Swen catches all three in North Dakota. Convinced that they are communist subversives, Swen imprisons and interrogates them even as, hour by hour, minute by minute, Khrushchev and Kennedy threaten to launch World War III.
An absurdist romp, Atomic Road charts its own course between historical veracity, fictional invention, and the unfettered egotism of two mad intellectuals.
Grant Buday is the author of ten previous books of fiction and nonfiction. His novel, White Lung, and the story collection, Monday Night Man, were both finalists for the City of Vancouver Book Prize. His most recent novel, The Delusionist, was a finalist for both the Kobzar Literary Award and the Eric Hoffer Award. His story "Beasts," published in The Fiddlehead, about Michel de Montaigne buying a sasquatch, has been selected for the next volume of Best Canadian Stories. He lives on Mayne Island.
John O'Brian is an art historian, writer, and curator. His books include Camera Atomica and Atomic Postcards: Radioactive Messages from the Cold War.