cover image How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive

Christopher Boucher. Melville (Random, dist.), $15 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-935554-63-9

Writing to save your life%E2%80%93and your 1971 Volkswagen%E2%80%94is at the heart of this wildly imaginative debut. The car isn't just like a son to the narrator, it is his son. A series of whimsical adventures set in Northampton, Mass., find memory and fiction assuming anthropomorphic dimensions and rules about "parts and action... changing and changing back, with no warning." Raising a Beetle involves feeding it the crazy stories of characters like the Memory of My Father, named after the narrator's real father, who was killed by a Heart Attack Tree one morning in Amherst; a mother who is actually two characters (the One Side of My Mother complains to the television; the Other Side of My Mother cleans up the kitchen); an array of nettlesome former girlfriends such as the Lady Made Entirely of Stained Glass, whose shattered bits, used to fix one of the Beetle's "eyes," brilliantly "broadcast" her hues "onto the roads of Northampton"; and of course the Beetle himself, a mischievous fellow indeed. Boucher brings even more formal fun to the mix by basing his book on the famous 1969 manual by John Muir. Readers are in for a fresh, memorable ride with this inventive "collage of loss." (Aug.)