Bow Grip, Ivan Coyote's first novel, is a breathtaking story about love and loneliness, and the long road one must travel between them. Joey is a good-hearted, 40-something mechanic from small-town Alberta whose wife has recently left him for another woman. When a stranger named James approaches his shop and agrees to purchase a beat-up blue Volvo in exchange for a beautiful, hand-crafted cello, Joey sees it as an opportunity to finally make some overdue changes in his life.
But some troubling suspicions about James, and a desire to close the door on his failed marriage, compels Joey to hit the road and travel to Calgary, the big city by the Bow River. He stations himself at a rundown motel, where he struggles to learn how to play the cello, and strangers with their own complicated pasts ― an older gay man, a single mother ― become confidants. With quiet authority, Bow Grip is about one man's real rite of passage ― trying to keep the ghosts of personal history at bay with a heart that's as big as the endless prairie sky. (From Arsenal Pulp Press)
From the book
I would never have sold him the car in the first place if I'd known what he was going to do with it.
I'd seen him around town a couple of times, once or twice at the café, just drinking coffee, no cream, no sugar, never eating anything, and now and then at Ida's little grocery store, buying crackers and tins of oysters and canned soup, you know, bachelor stuff. I should know.
Once or twice I'd seen him thumbing a ride on the highway, always when I was going the other way, not that I'd have picked him up necessarily, since I've usually got the big dog in the front seat with me, shedding and generally leaving no room for another passenger, something Allyson always used to complain about, before she left. I guess I pretty much inherited my dad's disdain for hitchhikers, and on top of that, I had heard nothing but no good about the guy, if you can believe what you hear around town. My buddy Rick Davis nicknamed him the cowboy, kind of sarcastic-like on account of the straw hat he wears everywhere, combined with his apparent lack of a horse to go with it. Anyways, the cowboy isn't much liked by the guys I play hockey or poker with, nobody trusts him. Rick says it's because he lives alone in a school bus. I always secretly thought he was unpopular because he's quite good-looking, or so the ladies tell me, and a bunch of paunchy poker players with receding hairlines probably never take too well to an unattached man showing up in town. Nobody invited Nick the new dentist over for dinner for years, until he imported that blonde nurse from Edmonton and properly married her and moved her piano in. Now he's one of the guys, like he's been here in Drumheller forever, just like the rest of us.
From Bow Grip by Ivan Coyote ©2006. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press.