Trying to remember a post-apocalyptic book from the 80s.
I recently recalled a post-apocalyptic novel I briefly owned that was written some time in the 1980s. Unfortunately, I don't recall much, as I think I lost the book before I could finish it.
All I do remember is that it was a low-key story about a young man in a near-future dystopian America that was something like a toned-down Mad Max kind of world. I recall that the world still had some form of commerce conducted along the interstate highways, and the hero ran away from home and got a ride at a fortified truck-stop from a vulgar, fat truck driver who called himself "The Barrel" because he had such a huge stomach. Soon after they got on the road, they were stopped by bandits and The Barrel was killed and the young hero managed to get away. I do not recall what else happened to him, except I think at some point he met a young woman and they became involved.
I am 100 % certain it is NOT "Set of Wheels" by Robert Thurston or "On Wheels" by John Jakes. It also does not belong to one of the many Road Warrior ripoff action series that were popular in the 1980s.
If anyone can recall this book, I would be very happy!
DRIVING SEEMED TO settle the fat trucker somewhat. He mopped at his tear-stained face with a red bandanna, then put a straw sombrero on his dome-shaped head, tossing a battered peaked cap to Long Range.
‘You’re the co-driver, right? What’s your name, boy?’ he shouted across the drone of the engine, suddenly arrogant now his tears had stopped.
‘Long Range John. What’s yours?’
‘They call me the Barrel,’ he said, patting his enormous belly and grinning automatically.
‘What happened back there?’ asked Long Range.
WOW! I can't believe this is the one! I had briefly considered this book, which I read and enjoyed several times, but I didn't bother to look deeply at it for this case. I thought it was set too far in the future for the book I was thinking of, and I was convinced that the book I was seeking was published 10 years later than The Lost Traveler. Thanks very much! I have to re-read this ASAP.