Idiot Wind

A Memoir

Peter Kaldheim

My life had become nothing to brag about, only something to survive, and for that I had no one to blame but myself
Idiot Wind by Peter Kaldheim (Hardback ISBN 9781786897367) book cover

Available as Hardback, eBook, Downloadable audio

The memoir of one man’s journey from addiction back to sobriety and sanity via the road

In 1987 a massive snowstorm hits New York as Peter Kaldheim flees the city, owing drug debts to a dealer who is no stranger to casual violence. Leaving behind his chaotic past, Kaldheim hits the road, living hand-to-mouth in flop-houses, pan-handling with his fellow itinerants. As he makes his way across America in search of a new life, the harsh reality of vagrancy forces him to face up to his past, from his time in Rikers prison, to relationships lost and lamented. Kaldheim hikes and buses through an America rarely seen, and his encounters with a disparate collection of characters instils in him a new empathy and wisdom, as he journeys on a road less travelled.


“A warm-hearted and witty mix of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road and George Orwell’s Down and Out In Paris and London
the Times

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Idiot Wind is an utterly compelling memoir – the story of a life squandered and ultimately reclaimed. For all his self-confessed debauchery, Kaldheim is an acute observer and a great storyteller: the chapters on his nights as a homeless coke dealer in downtown Manhattan in the eighties are harrowing and hilarious. And his descriptions of his subsequent hobo peregrinations are rich in gritty detail. Kaldheim channels Orwell, Kerouac and Frederick Exley as he stumbles across America and finally finds his unlikely way to redemption”
Jay Mcinerney

Idiot Wind gives the definitive, harrowing, and often grimly hilarious answer to the question of what happens to a person when he “drops off the map”, his old life no longer viable and his new life nowhere in sight”
Walter Kirn

“The smart, easygoing voice, personal honesty, and downright humility I found in Peter Kaldheim’s memoir, Idiot Wind, grabbed me from the very first page, and I ended up never wanting it to end”
Donald Ray Pollock

“Peter Kaldheim’s honesty and optimistic persistence in every circumstance make for a powerful and compelling narrative … Idiot Wind provides a unique and important insight into homelessness in the US and is engaging from start to finish”
the Skinny


Peter Kaldheim

Peter Kaldheim graduated in English and Classics from Dartmouth, before going on to work in publishing (as head copy editor at Harcourt then acquiring editor at Van Nostrand Reinhold), but an addiction to drugs caused his life to come apart, landing him in Rikers Island jail after he sold cocaine to an undercover drug squad agent. He now lives in Lindenhurst, Long Island, where he fishes for fluke on charter boats out of Montauk. Idiot Wind is his first book.