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The Red-Headed Pilgrim

a novel by
Kevin Maloney

$ 14.21 $ 18.95
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The Red-Headed Pilgrim a novel by Kevin Maloney

* A "Best Book of 2023" —Southwest ReviewIndependent Book ReviewWrite Or Die Magazine
*  2024 Long List for The Tournament of Books
* “Most Anticipated Books of 2023” —
LitHub, BookRiot
* "Page One" feature at Poets & Writers
* "12 Must-Read Books of January 2023" —
Chicago Review of Books

Provocative, poignant, and resoundingly hilarious, The Red-Headed Pilgrim is the tragicomic tale of an anxious red-head and his sordid pursuit of enlightenment and pleasure (not necessarily in that order).

On a sunny day in a business park near Portland, Oregon, 42-year-old web developer Kevin Maloney is in the throes of an existential crisis that finds him shoeless in a field of Queen Anne’s lace, reflecting on the tumultuous events that brought him to this moment. Growing up in the suburbs, young Kevin suffered “a psychological break that ripped me from my humdrum existence” mainlining high fructose corn syrup and episodes of The Golden Girls. Thus begins a journey of hard-earned insights and sexual awakening that takes Kevin from angst-ridden Beaverton to the beaches of San Diego, a frontier-themed roadside attraction in Helena, Montana, and a hermetic shack on an organic lettuce farm.

Everything changes when Kevin falls in love with Wendy. After a chance tarot reading lands them on the frigid coast of Maine, their lives are unsettled by the birth of their daughter, Zoë, whose sudden presence is oftentimes terrifying, frequently disturbing, and yet—miraculously—always wondrous.

The Red-Headed Pilgrim is an irresistible novel of misadventure and new beginnings, of wanderlust and bad decisions, of parenthood and divorce, and of the heartfelt truths we unearth when we least expect it.

Excerpt Magazine presents: "Apocalypse Now" and "Frontier Village" excerpted from The Red-Headed Pilgrim

Shelf Unbound presents: An excerpt from The Red-Headed Pilgrim (p 52-53)

Fence presents: "Hansel & Gretel" excerpted from The Red-Headed Pilgrim

Watch the book trailer for The Red-Headed Pilgrim, created by the author, Kevin Maloney, originally debuted by Vol. 1 Brooklyn:


Scroll to bottom for Goodreads reviews.

The Red-Headed Pilgrim makes the long list for the 2024 Tournament of Books!
View the 2024 Long List for The Tournament of Books

"Heartbreakingly witty, Kevin Maloney’s The Red-Headed Pilgrim captures the coming of age of an idealistic man-child as he tours the united states in search of meaning."
—Nick Rees Gardner, Independent Book Review
"The Best Books We Read in 2023"

“It’s hard to write an honest book. It’s even harder to write an honest book that is charming, hilarious and doesn’t make the author sound like a crusty, tower-dwelling sage.”
—Mila Jaroniec, Southwest Review
"10 Must-Read Books of 2023"

"I like to think of The Red-Headed Pilgrim as the perfect book for anyone who loved Kerouac but wondered what would happen if, like most of us, he eventually had to grow up and become responsible to someone else. This novel broke my heart over and over again in the best way as it followed the protagonist (also named Kevin Maloney) on his pilgrimage to lose his virginity and gain enlightenment. Along the way there is farm work and camping; there are wild women and almost loves; there is actual love and its fallout; there is parenting and the chaos that it entails; maybe most importantly there is the constant struggle to build a life that feels meaningful."
—Shelby Hinte, Write or Die Magazine
"Book Picks of 2023"

“In the throes of an existential crisis, a middle-aged web developer renounces his humdrum life in Portland, Ore., and embarks on a cross-country trip, finding love, meaning and a new life on the coast of Maine.”
New York Times, "Newly Published"

Kevin Maloney, author of The Red-Headed Pilgrim, featured in 1859 Oregon’s Magazine:
Kevin Maloney, author of The Red-Headed Pilgrim, featured in 1859 Oregon’s Magazine

"Writer Kevin Maloney discusses the importance of play, the meaning of life, and finding family within the arts..."
—Shy Watson, The Creative Independent
INTERVIEW: "Writer Kevin Maloney on when to set rules"

"Like his indie lit peer Scott McClanahan, Maloney’s writing is deeply indebted to Vonnegut’s mix of heartbreak and humor, but The Red-Headed Pilgrim’s emulation of Slaughterhouse-Five’s opening chapter isn’t just for show; its placement points to the central question of the book: Is it possible to separate your own narrative from the ones you discovered in your formative years?"
—Kevin M. Kearney, The Millions
(Read the full book review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

"Despite how often he screws up, you just can’t help pulling for him. The Red Headed Pilgrim is one of the funniest and fastest flying books you could ever read and may just appeal to the repressed Jack Kerouac living secretly inside of you."
—Tony Alcantara of Explore Booksellers, The Colorado Sun
"What Explore Booksellers suggests for your March reading list"

The Red-Headed Pilgrim included in coming out, "NEW ENGLAND LITERARY NEWS"
—Nina MacLaughlin, The Boston Globe (January 19, 2023)

"The last time we checked in with Kevin Maloney, it was around the time of the publication of his first book, Cult of Loretta. Now it’s 2023 and Maloney has a new novel out in the world—the fantastic, jarring, comic The Red-Headed Pilgrim. It’s both a comic riff on Maloney’s own life (kind of; see below for more on that) and a genuine tale of what it means to be a pilgrim in the present day (or recent past). It accomplishes the impressive feat of both grappling with some of the biggest issues one can grapple with and of recognizing the folly of taking oneself too seriously. In the middle of a hot summer, I reached out to Maloney to discuss his novel, the role of red in his work, and what’s next for him."
—Tobias Carroll, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Maloney’s revisionist treatment of Western themes make The Red-Headed Pilgrim the offspring (dare I say red-headed step-child?) of the Acid Western genre. And I don’t believe it’s overly generous to say that The Red-Headed Pilgrim is the next iteration of the Western, one with enough music and heart to propel the genre into the twenty-first century and beyond.”
—Nick Gardner, Cleveland Review of Books
(Read the full book review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

The Red-Headed Pilgrim is one of "19 New Books to Get at Your Local Indie Right Now"
—Katie Yee, Lit Hub

"Infinitely quotable, the book draws comparisons to the aforementioned Richard Brautigan, Denis Johnson, and other bards of the down-and-outer... [The] sad-sack portions are laugh-out-loud funny, as bad as you feel for the novel’s narrator. Despite the pilgrim’s goofiness, the stakes are clear, and he truly wants to be a good father. His earnestness makes every setback all the more heartbreaking... Maloney’s novel cuts out the past twelve years of his life as an office drone. The important parts are the years when he was young. Making mistakes. Foolishly trying to achieve an impossible enlightenment. Those are the parts ripe for a novel, at least. Those really were the days. Burning so bright."
—Zachary Kocanda, Heavy Feather Review
(Read the full book review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

Author Kevin Maloney shares five works that set The Red-Headed Pilgrim on its path.
"Influences" Series at Library of America: Kevin Maloney | 2/13/2023

"...how does a person exist in the fringe of society while still tending to one’s own responsibilities? ... The Red-Headed Pilgrim embodies much of the same questions and themes found in Kerouac, Thoreau, and Whitman, yet it also feels wholly unique and of this time. It is full of suffering and beauty, and it lurches towards truth in its haphazard way that feels a lot like life. It is a book about yearning—for love, for art, for a different kind of life, for spirituality, and, ultimately, for a sense of one’s identity."
—Shelby Hinte, Write or Die Magazine
Interview: "Kevin Maloney: On Writing with a Day Job, Parenthood, How Twitter Made Him a Better Editor, and His Novel ‘The Red-Headed Pilgrim’"

“If the character Kevin Maloney were a Tarot card, he would be The Fool, card zero, the starry-eyed hero on the first step of his beautiful, terrifying journey, the whole of life unspooling before him in an endless cosmic thread. Cross Tom Robbins with Richard Brautigan with Evelyn Waugh, add a touch of Umberto Eco, and you have the writer Kevin Maloney, one of the last remaining holy fools willing to undergo a soul’s journey and write about it, honestly and ecstatically, with no moralistic lesson save one: the lesson is the journey, and we don’t have a lot of time. It’s worth it.”
—Mila Jaroniec, Southwest Review
(Read the full book review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

“Somewhere between the hysterical realism of Zadie Smith and the sexy, witty misfits of a Tom Robbins novel.”
—Brock Kingsley, Chicago Review of Books
(Read the full book review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

“A hilarious book, but one that deals with some serious themes.”
—Michael Schaub, Orange County Register
Interview: "How Kevin Maloney’s ‘half-true’ adventures became ‘The Red-Headed Pilgrim’"

"While Red-Headed Pilgrim is undoubtedly a funny book, it’s a weighty one, too, carrying an emotional heft that Maloney traced in part to becoming a father in his mid-20s."
—Andy Downing, Matter News
Interview: "Kevin Maloney finally finds himself right where he wants to be"

"Maloney writes humor so effortlessly that you forget how hard it is to do it effectively... It has moments that break our hearts as we witness Kevin Maloney sink into the lowest parts of his life. Because we’ve laughed with him, we can now root even harder for him to crawl out of it... This story is an authentic look at what it means to be human and to feel, whether that’s complete despair or incredible elation."
—Joseph Edwin Haeger, Thirty West
(Read the full book review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

"Promises a rollercoaster of laughs. The Red-Headed Pilgrim follows a middle-aged wreck whose web development job in Portland propels his existential crisis. From 'angst-ridden Beaverton to the beaches of San Diego,' our unlikely hero embarks on a strange series of misadventures."
EverOut Portland

In conversation with hosts Alex Higley and Lindsay Hunter on I'm a Writer But, Kevin Maloney, author of The Red-Headed Pilgrim talks about fictionalizing his own life, writing about sex, writing a book that was “like On the Road combined with Napoleon Dynamite.”
Interview: I'm a Writer But Podcast: Kevin Maloney interview 

"Tender and uproarious... Maloney writes in a casual, self-deprecating style, befitting the swapping of stories across a bar top or kitchen table. Possessing a keen eye for detail, his prose is jam-packed with memorable characters who pop off the page and can’t help but make the wrong choice, time and time again."
—Sheldon Birnie, Winnipeg Free Press
(Read the full review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

"Even while describing some emotionally devastating things, there are funny lines in just about every paragraph. Which doesn’t seem to lessen the emotional impact when things get really bad for our mishap-prone hero, or when the miraculous unexpectedly makes an appearance... The writer has enough distance from his younger self to recognize his youthful foibles and ridiculousness, while also recalling that the things that he was clumsily searching for back then—meaning, purpose, love, art, and miracles—actually do matter, a lot more than the security and predictability most of us eventually settle for. We should probably keep room in our lives to make mistakes."
—Rufus Hickok, Ordinary Times
(Read the full review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

Episode 810: Kevin Maloney on Otherppl with Brad Listi Podcast: Interview and a reading from Kevin Maloney, author of The Red-Headed Pilgrim. Watch on YouTube:

"This week, host Jason Jefferies is joined by Kevin Maloney, author of The Red-Headed Pilgrim, which is published by our friends at Two Dollar Radio. Topics of conversation include the line between fact and fiction, the fear of routine in adulthood, virginity and sex, Howl, Robotussin-induced spirit journeys, Pearl Jam vs. Sufjan Stevens, wanderlust, and much more."
—Jason Jefferies interviews Kevin Maloney, 'Bookin' Podcast' 

'The Lives of Writers Podcast' — Podcast Interview with Michael Wheaton
"Michael talks with Kevin Maloney about getting married to the same person a few times, working as a web developer for about fifteen years, looking to dead writers for a way to live, interest in Eastern philosophy and the doomed quest to jump to wisdom, writing with a true voice and sense of humor, The Red-Headed Pilgrim, learning from plotless work to write a book with a plot, the comic giving way to sadness, writing a really good middle, blending the autobiographical and the fictional, seeking the maybe impossible path to spiritual being, and more."

"[The Red-Headed Pilgrim] by the Portland, Oregon-based author, published by Two Dollar Radio, features a hero who shares the author's name and bounces around the United States from childhood through his early 40s."
—Erica Thompson, Columbus Dispatch
"Author to share ‘sharp wit’ of new novel"

'I'm Just Here to Not Get Fined' —T.L. States, Words & Sports Interview with Kevin Maloney: "We corresponded over Twitter DMs last summer, in July and August, so you'll catch glimpses of things that were still to come, but have now passed us by. Kevin is a deeply personal writer, and a thoughtful conversationalist. We get into a little Denis Johnson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, living in a state of awe and appreciation, and crying. And other things. Many other things."

“Kevin Maloney is always good for a laugh, a wrench, and a rollercoaster ride—in his latest novel, which Chelsea Martin calls ‘a beautiful ode to being a fucked up pathetic virgin’ (amazing) a web developer named Kevin Maloney recalls the teenage suburban psychological break/awakening that let him on a long journey to a complicated adulthood. I expect a very good trip.”
—Emily Temple, LitHub, "Most Anticipated Books of 2023"

“The narrator of this novel seeks happiness and enlightenment.... The method by which he goes about finding them, though — well, that’s where things get especially interesting.”
Vol. 1 Brooklyn, "January 2023 Book Preview"

'5 Writers, 7 Questions, No Wrong Answers' LitHub Interview with Teddy Wayne:
Teddy Wayne interviews Kevin Maloney—author of The Red-Headed Pilgrim—along with Kashana Cauley, Nyani Nkrumah, Jason Roeder, and Daniel Torday for Lit Hub. Topics of discussion include influences, the complications of the term “autofiction,” alternative careers to writing, and more!

“A web developer embarks on a journey of enlightenment and indulgence to find out who he really is. A new release from the wonderful indie press Two Dollar Radio.”
—Liberty Hardy, Book Riot

“Kevin Maloney's The Red-Headed Pilgrim is one of the most absurdly funny yet poignant novels I have ever read. If Augie March had been guided by the Beats and born in Oregon, this could have been his story.”
—David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy
(Read Kevin Maloney's playlist for The Red-Headed Pilgrim at Largehearted Boy)

The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a fantastic addition to the “midlife woes” genre... Kevin Maloney’s novel is a tragicomic misadventure about new beginnings that is in turns laugh out loud funny and painfully real.”
The Chicago Review of Books, “Must-Read Books of January 2023”

“Kevin Maloney’s humility and sense of humor are inspiring, if not contagious. It’s empowering to loudly claim that you aren’t perfect... It’s a very intimate and vulnerable novel that is told with such a heartfelt and self-deprecating way that you’ll end up relating to Kevin Maloney’s journey through adulthood.”
—Benoit Lelievre, Dead End Follies
(Read the full book review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

For Independent Book Review, Joe Walters has named The Red-Headed Pilgrim by Kevin Maloney as one of "30 Indie Books to Look Out for in 2023"!

"This year Two Dollar Radio published Kevin’s book The Red-Headed Pilgrim and again I had the LOLs and moments of feeling like I’ve met a character like this in my own Pacific Northwest past, or I rubbed shoulders with them twenty years ago as someone handed me a beer outside in front of a fire. The protagonists of these books is totally someone who I can imagine a version of myself sitting with on the tailgate of the El Camino, our hands in a baggie of mushrooms at dusk. As is my mini-interview practice, I asked Kevin to respond to three to five questions from a total of eight offered."
—Wendy C. Ortiz, for Mommy’s El Camino
INTERVIEW: “making less happen and just letting things meander a little”

The Red-Headed Pilgrim is featured in Page One in Poets & Writers Magazine:
Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin, January/February 2023

"We’re big admirers of the work of Kevin Maloney around these parts. His novel Cult of Loretta and his short fiction are particular favorites, and he’s an engaging interviewee to boot. All of which means that we’re thrilled about his forthcoming novel The Red-Headed Pilgrim, scheduled for publication by Two Dollar Radio in January. And we’re happy to be premiering the trailer for said novel today—a short video that gives a fine sense of what to expect from Maloney’s forthcoming work":
Book trailer for The Red-Headed Pilgrim, created by the author, Kevin Maloney, originally debuted by Vol. 1 Brooklyn:

"Halfway between the ranting of a beloved, inebriated uncle at the family holiday and the working diary of an emerging standup comic, The Red Headed Pilgrim is the story of Kevin Maloney, an outcast in a world of outcasts, telling us of his adventures from existentially-unnerved teenager to neurotic father. From the very beginning, starting with the book’s charming and effective prologue, Maloney plays with the novel form, not so much breaking the fourth wall as challenging its very existence."
—D. W. White, 3:AM Magazine
"Me, Myself, and I: Autotruth and Autofiction in The Red Headed Pilgrim"

"In The Red-Headed Pilgrim, Maloney envisions a hilarious reality in which we must give up on our dreams to care for those we love and begrudgingly find meaning along the way."
—Daniel Marcantuono,  Mid-American Review
(Read the full review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

"The Red-Headed Pilgrim illuminates the sometimes painful reality of what it means to search for meaning and beauty in this world. With quick wit and refreshing humor, Maloney has crafted a coming of age and adulthood story that exposes the gritty underside of idealization without losing all hope. This book was a wild, exuberant ride."
—Madeline Hausmann, Bookpeople (Austin, TX)

"This book gave me a glimpse into what life would've been like had I married my college boyfriend. While I'm still glad to have dodged that bullet, I was elated to have the opportunity to witness the chaos from the comfort of my couch. I laughed, I cringed, and, ultimately, I was left with a sense of hope for the Kevin Maloneys of the world.
—Jenny Schenck, Changing Hands Bookstore (Tempe, AZ)

"Kevin is a teen-turning-adult in the 90s, but his journey is classic 1960s/70s: a highly intelligent soul searches for truth and beauty with the aid of various drugs, a deep appreciation of nature and simplicity, openness to spontaneous travel, and strong avoidance of 9-5 jobs. Kevin carelessly becomes a father and husband, and parenthood skyrockets his tendency toward denial. Divorce eventually forces him back home to a 9-5 job. A raucous trip!"
—Kay Wosewick, Boswell Book Company (Milwaukee, WI)

"With a mix of humor, melancholy, and pathos, Kevin Maloney’s memorable novel The Red-Headed Pilgrim follows an office worker through his midlife crisis... Maloney’s prose is expert in its formation. The book’s sections are packed with witty references and sly digs at Kevin’s lack of self-awareness. There are scenes that are downright heartbreaking, too. Indeed, in addition to Kevin’s freewheeling adventures, the novel covers the consequences that adventuring can produce. Kevin enters into a far from ideal marriage, raises a child in that milieu, and works to manage elements of a life that can’t be put back together... fun, adventure-filled novel."
—Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Reviews

"The author maintains a sharp wit and a knack for bringing zany flare to everyday details in his protagonist’s awkward quest to build a life, and the author’s willingness to get laughs at his narrator-doppelgänger’s expense makes for a good use of the form. This funny and openhearted romp will have readers laughing and reflecting on their own misadventures and foibles."
Publishers Weekly (Read the full review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

"There are pages in here where every.single.sentence is funny... While the humor is seeping through these easy-reading pages, it’s also telling the story of a guy who makes decisions based on their own fumblings of how the world works... Maloney (the character) goes through quite a lot by the end of this book, and maybe it becomes hard to breathe as an adult, harder to cope. Maybe it becomes harder to do most things, but he’s alive. So maybe there’s hope for him (and me) yet."
—Joe Walters, Independent Book Review
(Read the full book review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

"What follows is a funny, sometimes sad, always openhearted tour of a man’s coming of age... Looking back at young mistakes from middle-age is a time-honored tradition. Especially for those who’ve harbored artistic or utopian dreams (or delusions, as the case may be.) Maloney doesn’t give us the wish-fulfillment ending by having Kevin quit his comfortable job and go back on the road to sound his barbaric yawp, but neither does he close the door on the possibility that some pie-in-the-sky hopes may still come true."
—Dmitry Samarov, Neutral Spaces
(Read the full book review of The Red-Headed Pilgrim)

"I devoured this book. What a beautiful ode to being a fucked up pathetic virgin. The Red-Headed Pilgrim is intimate and vulnerable and sexy in the most raw, uncomfortable, depressing ways. Kevin Maloney, through years of poor decisions and contradictory impulses, shows us what he seemed to always know: there is nothing more powerful than love."
Chelsea Martin, author of Tell Me I'm an Artist

"The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a revelation that achieves starry dynamo-level energy from the jump. Maloney's prose is sharp and vivid, full of trippy precision, and his story is funny, wild, painful and wise. When the road of On the Road runs into shattered middle age, this book is waiting for you."
Sam Lipsyte, author of Hark and The Ask

“It’s like Thoreau meets Cheech & Chong"
—Andy D., Bookseller staff pick at Powell's City of Books

"A very funny and rollicking novel about one young man's often ill-fated quest for authenticity, originality, and beauty in modern times. Part of a generation raised in relative privilege by tv and breakfast cereal, he seeks more than the cog in the machine 9-5 life expected of him in search of unique experience, be it through farming, retail, travel, sex, drugs, rock and roll, all the way to marriage and fatherhood, often falling flat on his face. I devoured this book in one evening and enjoyed his misadventures thoroughly."
—Seth Tucker, Carmichael's Bookstore (Louisville, KY)

"The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a fascinating novel about what can happen when you pursue beauty above all else. Money, reality, and corporate jobs are the last thing on this narrator's mind—instead, he'll go wherever love takes him. Kevin Maloney's writing will break your heart in the best way, reminding us how difficult life can be when we follow the path towards meaning, understanding, and belonging."
Chelsea Hodson, author of Tonight I'm Someone Else

"The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a funny, raw, eccentric novel that made me laugh out loud frequently as I tore through its pages. What I appreciated most about this bittersweet, darkly comic story, though, is how it is tinged so beautifully with hope in the end."
Jami Attenberg, bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All Grown Up

"Just as life does over and over again to its hero, Kevin Maloney's The Red-Headed Pilgrim knocked me down, picked me up, tickled my ribs, knocked me down again, kicked sand in my face, made my bed in the dirt, and then rubbed my back. It's John Williams by way of Sam Lipsyte, and it's not to be missed."
—Greg Kornbluh, Downbound Books (Cincinnati, OH)

"Unfailingly affable, often hilarious, sometimes harrowing, The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a künstlerroman—a novel detailing a young person's development into an artist—that tells the tale of one tall, white, Boho-American male's staggering path to creative fulfillment. With many detours through the swamps of sex, drugs, farm work, and fatherhood along the way, this novel is filled with deceptively hard-won wisdom, all wrapped in a brightly-colored bow."
Jon Raymond, author of Freebird

“Who doesn’t love a good disaster story, told with humor and good grace? I really do recommend this book, The Red-Headed Pilgrim, by Kevin Maloney. The main character has hints of those old-school hapless heroes from the pages of Salinger or Brautigan, with a dash of modern day love-able losers like, say, Napoleon Dynamite. It’s a drug and sex fueled Odyssey, with way less violence and death, and hardly any monsters, come to think of it. But I believe you’ll enjoy it all the same.”
Arthur Bradford, author of Turtleface and Beyond

“Kevin Maloney has lovingly shoved the great American novel into a tank of LSD and it’s crawled out with triumphant stars in its eyes. The Red-Headed Pilgrim is a beautifully melted comic work with a profound and eternal heart.”
Bud Smith, author of Teenager

"I'm not a grudge guy, but I have one long-standing gripe and it's with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, due to them stiffing me and my pal, Pizza Place, on a tip for a $600 order at the falafel shop in Omaha. Thing is, Kevin Maloney loves them. Namedrops them multiple times in this book. But it's such a goddamn gem of a novel that I can't help but get swept up in the story of Kevin Maloney: poet, Buddhist, 'shroom-tripper, aloof charmer. Makes me want to forgive all past trespasses. Hell, I might even cue up a RHCP song. That one about California."
Gene Kwak, author of Go Home, Ricky!

Praise for Kevin Maloney:

"Devastatingly gorgeous and horrifying. Maloney writes lush, gritty, and compact vignettes that crescendo through bizarrely particular and hectic circumstances."
—Nathan Scott McNamara, Electric Literature, on Cult of Loretta

"There are novels of relationships gone sour, and then there’s Kevin Maloney’s Cult of Loretta, which finds its obsessive narrator locked in a deeply unhealthy, borderline-apocalyptic fixation with a woman who recurs throughout his life. It’s at once rooted in the quotidian and deeply hallucinatory, a combination that pays off repeatedly."
—Tobias Carroll, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, on Cult of Loretta

"This is one funny—and sometimes disturbing—short novel. Cult of Loretta combines a likable sad-sack narrative with early '90s Portland grunge-drug culture and the pain of romantic hearts that can't be tamed or understood."
—Kevin Sampsell, Powell's Books Blog, on Cult of Loretta


Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA) Tradeshow
Monday, Sep. 19, 2022 @ 7:45–9 am
Tacoma, Washington (Hotel Murano Venice Ballrooms)

Event details: Authors on the Map Breakfast @ Hotel Murano Venice Ballrooms (Tickets required)

Powell’s City of Books: Kevin Maloney in Conversation With Jon Raymond
1005 W Burnside St., Portland, OR 97209
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023 @ 7pm (PT)
Event details: Powell's is currently offering SIGNED pre-order book; view event page.
Join author Kevin Maloney for the official book launch event for The Red-Headed Pilgrim!

The Oracle Tavern 
1640 N Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023 @ 6:30pm (PT)

The Book Catapult: Kevin Maloney in Conversation w/ Julia Dixon Evans
3010-b Juniper St, San Diego, CA 92104
Friday, Jan. 27, 2023 @ 7pm (PT)

Event details: thebookcatapult.com/events
The Book Catapult is pleased to host Kevin Maloney for his new novel, The Red Headed Pilgrim on Friday, January 27 at 7:00pm. Kevin will be in-conversation with local author and KPBS arts producer, Julia Dixon Evans.

The Red Room at KGB Bar
85 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003
Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023 @ doors 8pm (ET)

Event details: RedRoomNYC.com/events
The Red Room at KGB Bar will host a reading that features The Red-Headed Pilgrim author Kevin Maloney, along with authors (tentative): Bud Smith, Madeline Cash, Sam Lipsyte, and Robert Lopez!

Two Dollar Radio Headquarters
1124 Parsons Ave, Columbus, OH 43206
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023 @ Doors open 7:30pm | Event 8pm (ET)

Event details: TwoDollarRadioHQ.com/events
Join us for an extra special event with Kevin Maloney, author of the latest Two Dollar Radio title, The Red-Headed Pilgrim.

Downbound Books
4139 Apple St, Cincinnati, OH 45223
Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 @ 5pm (ET)

Event details: downboundbooks.com/events
Kevin Maloney with Matt Hart & Kate Jayroe

Carmichael's Bookstore
2720 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206
Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023 @ 7 pm (ET)

Event details: carmichaelsbookstore.com/events
Join author Kevin Maloney!

Joseph-Beth Bookstore
161 Lexington Green Cir # B, Lexington, KY 40503
Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023 @ 7pm (ET)

Event details: josephbeth.com/event
Join author Kevin Maloney!

Otter Bar and Burger
Eastlake Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102
Saturday, Mar. 11, 2023 @ (TBD) pm
Event details: otterbarandburger.com/events


BOOK CLUB & READER GUIDE: Questions and Topics for Discussion

Click here to view and/or download the The Red-Headed Pilgrim reader guide as a PDF.

1. The epigraph for the novel is a quote from Carl Jung in which he reflects on John Bunyan’s famous 17th century allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress, and the title, The Red-Headed Pilgrim, alludes to a pilgrimage as well. What comes to mind for you with the idea of a “pilgrim”? How do the title and the epigraph set a fitting tone for this story?

2. This book presents itself as a novel, but the main character shares a name and biographical details with the author. How did this impact your experience of the text? Did you read it as an autobiographical account? How would you have experienced this novel if the author and narrator’s names were different? Discuss whether you believe it matters what genre (novel, memoir, autofiction...) a book is labeled as belonging to.

3. In the Prologue, the narrator has an existential crisis in an office park in the suburbs. How does this set the stage for what follows? Do you relate to the protagonist’s fear of complacency?

4. Early in the novel, Kevin’s spiritual journey begins when his psychologist gives him a copy of Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. What role do books play in The Red-Headed Pilgrim? To what extent is Kevin’s education institutional vs. self-directed?

5. In high school, teenage Kevin starts a club called “The Inevitable Death Society.” How does the fear of death inform Kevin’s journey? Does Kevin have a realistic or idealized understanding of mortality?

6. In The Red-Headed Pilgrim, Kevin’s parents send him to an expensive private university. Later, they fund his whimsical backpacker vacation to Europe. Does the protagonist seem aware of his privilege? How does his privilege inform his experiences in adulthood as an employee and father? How do we reconcile his hardships in the context of his privilege?

7. In mythology and contemporary narrative, the hero’s journey is a common format involving a hero who has adventures, overcomes obstacles, and returns home victorious and transformed. How does this text engage or reject the traditions of the hero’s journey? How do external forces, such as capital-ism and gender roles, affect the protagonist’s progress?

8. Why the focus on the narrator’s hair color? Is there something distinctive about the red-headed identity we can learn from this story? In discussing his appearance, the writer does not focus on his race, height, or other physical attributes much or at all. Why is this story specifically focused on life as a ginger?

9. In Chapter 9, Kevin takes up residence at a Wild West-themed roadside attraction called Frontier Village. Later, we find him wearing a cowboy hat, fantasizing about an imagined past working as a ranch hand. What role do the ideas and imagery of the American West play in the novel? In what ways does the novel utilize or subvert the tropes of early American lore?

10. Role models for our protagonist tend to be male thinkers and artists, yet female figures act as teachers throughout this story and propel the plot forward. Ranging from mother figures to lovers and a daughter, among others, how do we see the role of women impacting this story? What conclusions can we draw, if any, about the competing influences of masculine and feminine sensibilities upon the protagonist’s identity?

11. The majority of the novel takes place in a world before smartphones and social media. How would Kevin’s journey be different if it took place today?

12. Were there specific images in the novel that you found memorable, striking, evocative, or surprising? How was Maloney able to achieve this? What techniques of craft does the author employ to create a visually compelling world?

13. Many passages of the novel focus on sexual desire, anxiety, frustration, and fulfillment. At times, Maloney’s sexual preoccupations cloud his judgment but also bring him the gift of Zoë. How does sexuality function within the novel as a whole? Does Maloney’s sexual journey serve as a metaphor for the many obstacles on his path from suffering toward enlightenment? Is his sexual awakening a helpful tool in his journey?

14. In Part III, Kevin’s journey comes to an abrupt halt when he gets his girlfriend pregnant. In what ways is Kevin the Young Seeker still present in Kevin the Parent? In what ways does he successfully make the transition to parent and in what ways does he fail?

15. The Red-Headed Pilgrim is hyper-focused on the protagonist’s journey and how he sees himself. What role does point-of-view play in the novel? How would the novel be different if it were told from Wendy’s perspective? Zoë’s?

16. Think of some famous fathers in movies, TV, and novels. How does the protagonist resemble these characters? How is he different? Is the novel’s depiction of Kevin as a single father sympathetic? Can we draw any conclusions about the differing struggles faced by mothers and fathers?

17. Despite the chaos of her home life, Zoë emerges as a precocious, intelligent child. What role does Zoë play in her family? Who do we imagine Zoë will become in adulthood?

18. This first-person narration vacillates between chronological account and backward glance. Do these shifts in time serve the narrator’s attempt to reckon with his past? Does this selective memory serve another function? How is your understanding of the story and its themes enhanced by shifts between past and present?

19. What role do drugs and alcohol play in the novel? Are they a help or hindrance on Kevin’s journey to adulthood? How does the protagonist’s own view of their use change over time?

20. The tone of the novel is buoyantly humorous and playful, making use of the narrator’s delusions, his memorable foils, and the absurd to keep us laughing. Yet key interludes offer wistful reflection and melancholy. Discuss how the tension between these modes serves the novel and its themes. Do tonal shifts correlate with the treatment of time? What can we learn from charting our narrator’s reliance upon humor and the moments when he abandons it?


Kevin Maloney, author of The Redheaded Pilgrim (Two Dollar Radio, 2023)

Kevin Maloney is the author of Cult of Loretta and the forthcoming story collection Horse Girl Fever. At times a TJ Maxx associate, grocery clerk, outdoor school instructor, organic farmer, electrician, high school English teacher, and teddy bear salesman, he currently works as a web developer and writer. His short stories have appeared in Hobart, Barrelhouse, Green Mountains Review, and a number of other journals and anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife Aubrey.

Visit the Kevin Maloney author page for additional details and interviews.
Visit the Kevin Maloney author website.

Sneak Peek

Enjoy a sneak peek of select pages from The Red-Headed Pilgrim!
View The Red-Headed Pilgrim sneak peek here on Issuu.com
Sneak Peek image of The Red-Headed Pilgrim, a novel by Kevin Maloney


FORMAT: Paperback (1st printing with gatefold)
LIST PRICE: $18.95
PAGES: 223
PRINT ISBN: 9781953387288
DIGITAL ISBN: 9781953387295
AUDIOBOOK: Digital Download ISBN: 9781696609197
RELEASE DATE: 1/24/2023
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"

AUDIO BOOK: HighBridge audiobook of The Red-Headed Pilgrim
by Kevin Maloney, read by Tim Paige
Click here to listen to a excerpt of the novel:

Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Printed on Rolland Enviro. This paper contains 100% post-consumer fiber, is manufactured using renewable energy - Biogas and processed chlorine free.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).

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