I've always liked the sort of stories where people go an a journey as part of some sort of quest. Andersen Prunty's The Beard is a bizarro version of one of these quest novels. It's not an epic fantasy sort of quest; it's the sort where a couple of people travel through an altered version of America, and you get the sense that there's some sort of underlying allegory. In some ways, It reminded me of Neil Gaiman's American Gods or some L. Frank Baum's later Oz books.
The Beard is the story of David Glum, whose grandfather was kidnapped by a heard of elephants when David was seven. As an adult, David is a failed writer who returns to his parents' home to try and grow a beard, but then his mother seemingly dies, and David and his father set off on a quest to return the Brilliance, which had previously been stolen by the kidnapped grandfather, to a group of otherworldly people called the Nefarions.
Once the story got going and the adventures started, it was a great read. Unfortunately, the opening chapters where David is trying to sell his book, and subsequently moping around his parents' house, are kind of boring. If it wasn't for those, I would probably give this book five stars, as it is, it's still worthy of four.