Friday, May 18, 2012

Virtual Book Tour - Review: Theodore Weesner's "The Car Thief"

File Size: 619 KB
Print Length: 310 pages
Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions (May 10, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
Review Copy Courtesy Of:  Blue Dot Literary


It’s 1959.  Sixteen year-old Alex Housman has just stolen his fourteenth car and frankly doesn’t know why.  His divorced, working class father grinds out the night shift at the local Chevy Plant in Detroit, kept afloat by the flask in his glove compartment and the open bottles of booze in his Flint, Michigan home.

Abandoned and alone, father and son struggle to express a deep love for each other, even as Alex fills his day juggling cheap thrills and a crushing depression. He cruises and steals, running from, and to, the police, compelled by reasons he frustratingly can’t put into words.  And then there’s Irene Shaeffer, the pretty girl in school whose admiration Alex needs like a drug in order to get by.  Broke and fighting to survive, Alex and his father face the realities of estrangement, incarceration, and even violence as their lives hurtle toward the climactic episode that a New York Times reviewer called “one of the most profoundly powerful in American fiction.”

In this rich, beautifully crafted story, Weesner accomplishes a rare feat:  He’s written a transcendent piece of literature in deceptively plain language, painting a gripping portrait of a father and a son, otherwise invisible among the mundane, everyday details of life in blue collar America.

A true and enduring American classic.

Saph's Review:

As soon as read the synopsis of The Car Thief I just knew that I had to read it.  You see, I grew up in a small town just outside of Flint and until 5 years ago lived in Genesee County or nearby Shiawasee County.  In fact, as the story gets going the author starts listing various surrounding towns; Flushing, Linden, Grand Blanc, Atlas, & Montrose. I grew up in one of the towns listed, lived in 3 of them, lived 1 mile from one, and have been to the last one.  I was born in Flint but never actually lived in there.  I did work for GM within the Great Lakes Technology Centre downtown Flint.  Enough about me, however.

Alex is a teen living with his blue collar father.  His mother left and took his brother with her.  He gets into fights, steals automobiles, and basically just drifts along, forgotten, broken, and swept under the rug.  Alex also battles depression, which in itself is a struggle.  His father is an alcoholic and the two of them just keep drifting apart.  Then, after stealing his 14th vehicle, Alex gets caught, arrested, and send to the 1959 version of juvenile hall (juvie).  

Mr. Weesner does an excellent job with this coming of age tale. The book was first published in 1973 and is so well written that it unites the boundaries of many generations. He uses plain language that is only hard to read in the sense that the plight of Alex and his father is all too realistic.  Although this story is based around 1959, there are many aspects to it that are very much the same now in 2012.  I recommend this story to anyone; male or female.  It may be primarily about a male protagonist, but there aren't any women/girls I know that don't deal with men/boys at some point in their lives.


About the Author:

Theodore Weesner, born in Flint, Michigan, is aptly described as a “Writers’ Writer” by the larger literary community.  His short works have been published in the New Yorker, Esquire, Saturday Evening Post, Atlantic Monthly and Best American Short Stories.  His novels, including The True Detective, Winning the City and Harbor Light, have been published to great critical acclaim in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Harper’s, The Boston Globe, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, Boston Magazine and The Los Angeles Times to name a few.

Weesner is currently writing his memoir, two new novels, and an adaptation of his widely praised novel—retitled Winning the City Redux—also to be published by Astor + Blue Editions.  He lives and works in Portsmouth, NH.

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