cover image Steady Rollin’: Preacher’s Kid, Black Punk and Pedaling Papa

Steady Rollin’: Preacher’s Kid, Black Punk and Pedaling Papa

Fred Noland. Birdcage Bottom, $20 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-1-95779-591-1

Passion for cycling and musings on fatherhood shine through in this companionable grab bag of humorous autobiographical shorts. The vignettes consist of reminiscences and travel stories from different stages of Noland’s life, usually steered toward a punch line. Tales include moments growing up outside Houston with a father fixated by a religious calling, and accounts of his own attempts to explain an unjust world to his son. Numerous missives spin out from Noland’s fully committed bicycle treks around Oakland. Along the way, he weighs in on racial intolerance, Confederate monuments, and Covid bubbles, but also touches on the melancholy lyrics of Elliott Smith, the scourge of urban rental scooters, and how he lost the taste for fish. Complementing the disparate subjects, Noland’s cartooning varies to match each story: anxious sketches animate a teenage scuffle, while supple flowing lines recall a rapturous Iggy Pop concert. Noland is casually funny but doesn’t shy from introspection, and even concedes a few reluctant life lessons. Fans of Ben Passmore and John Porcellino will want to hop on for the ride. (Apr.)