Edgar Mint’s story begins with a bump. He is run over by the mailman on an Arizona Indian reservation when he is 7 years old, and his head is crushed like a tomato. He’s rushed to the hospital and is inexplicably revived. Thus begins The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint (Norton, $24.95), Brady Udall’s wonderfully uproarious novel about a half-Apache kid whose past is forgotten and whose future looks dim.
Edgar would make great friends with John Irving’s memorable hero Owen Meany. And could he use a buddy. When his head heals, he must leave the merry band of addicts and alcoholics who have become his makeshift family at the hospital. From this odd sanctuary he shuttles around sun-bleached middle America, from a ghastly school for delinquents to a flawed Mormon foster family, searching for a place to rest his beaten-up head. Udall is too smart to lapse into sentimentality; he writes with such warmth and humor that Edgar’s travails are endearing rather than horrifying.