Like an Old Green Flatbed Truck, is a novel of education, initiation, and discovery. The main character, Ernie Schwartz, finds himself in a spiritual and social vacuum. He is plagued by visions of death, and unable to relate to the values of his society or his friends. The first chapter finds Ernie and his friend, Jed, back from traveling. Ernie feels as lost at home as he did on the road. He becomes involved with a girl, and finds a job, but he begins to see both of them as a trap. So he leaves home again, this time alone. He goes to Mexico, searching for roots (he is part Mexican), and for new values. He tries to become one of the people, but he finds that he is isolated from them, also. So he retreats to the beach to form a bond with other restless Americans. On the beach in Mazatlan he meets Anna, a girl from New Mexico. She lived in Mexico when she was small, and she is able to help Ernie move closer to the Mexican people. But Anna is arrested and deported, leaving Ernie even more lost than before. Ernie goes to Lake Chapala, and begins taking codeine and other drugs. Finally he goes to Mexico City to sell cocaine. He wants to make money to help his friend, Jed, buy a farm. Ernie rides to Mexico City with Lewis, who lived with Anna in Mazatlan. Lewis introduces Ernie to Anna's grandfather. Through the guidance of the grandfather and Lewis, and through the effect of his experiences in the city, Ernie begins to come out of his spiritual vacuum. The climactic scene takes place on the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan. Ernie has his final vision, which leads him through death, and shows him that he and the world are one, and indivisible. The final chapter takes Ernie back home.