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.
About the authors
Grant Buday is the author of four novels: Rootbound, White Lung (Anvil Press), Under Glass, The Venetian, and A Sack of Teeth. White Lung was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Prize, as was his last collection of stories, Monday Night Man (Anvil Press). The Green Gold Rush, a screenplay based on the marijuana industry in BC, was a co-winner of the Praxis Centre for Screenwriters spring 1998 screenplay development workshop.
John O'Brian teraches Art History at the University of British Columbia. He is author of David Milne and the Modern Tradition of Painting: The Flat Side of the Landscape and Degas to Matisse: The Maurice Wetheim Collection, and editor of Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism.