I spent lots of time thinking about what to call this blog post. Automotive fiction? Novels for gear heads? Stories that feature cars? In the end no clever title captured what I was looking for. I stuck with the simple title: “Car Books”. Novels that feature a car as a major plotline. Since I am writing a novel that is inspired by traffic, I find myself gravitating to these novels.
Car Books #1 – The Bette Davis Club
I gravitated to The Bette Davis Club by Jane Lotter because of the book cover design. Nothing could have prepared me for the enjoyment I experienced while reading it. I raced through in two days. When it was finished I felt sad because it was over and I wished I had read it slowly to increase my enjoyment of it. It tells the story of a 50 year old that has to finally grow up and put her affairs in order. Most of the transformation happens while taking a road trip in a 1955 red MG. A car that is full of memories and significance to her. This books is funny, heartfelt and deeply satisfying.
Car Books #2 Mr. Mercedes
My son is developing a fascination with Stephen King. His enthusiasm for the dark side rubs off on me and here I am reading Stephen King’s novels as well. Mr. Mercedes is a novel about a vile psychopath who murders a group of people by stealing an expensive white Mercedes from a rich lady and using it to run over a group of people. A fun and suspenseful read. There is no doubt about it, Stephen King is a great writer and he knows how to tell a story in a compelling way. I was engaged from beginning till end. The story is full of unexpected plot twists that kept me guessing what might happen next. Towards the end it got a bit saggy. I felt that certain parts could have been edited a little better. But that is a minor concern. I will certainly never look at an ice-cream truck the same again. I also enjoyed the interplay of technology in the story. Cell phones, emails, social media all play a role. That part was handled skillfully. It all felt realistic. Very disturbing. Mr. Mercedes is the first book in a trilogy. Finders Keepers and End of Watch come next. If you are like me, you won’t be able to resist reading the whole trilogy.
Car Books #3 I am a Truck
A unique and creative story with humorous elements. A powerful and unexpected ending. I really enjoyed reading this book. It was fun all the way through. At first I found the smattering of French phrases a bit frustrating since I don’t speak any French at all. But then I got used it and found that I still understood what was going on regardless. This is a story about a man’s relationship with his Chevy. When he suddenly disappears, his wife develops a different type of a relationship with the truck.
Car Books #4 The Reivers
Imagine a bygone era where to see a car driving down the road is a reason for excitement. Then imagine you are an 11 year old whose family just recently acquired one of these magical inventions. The plot thickens when two irresponsible adults steal/borrow this vehicle and take you along for a ride that turns into an adventure of a life time. The Reivers by William Faulkner is a fascinating tale of adventure of new experiences. Technology is crashing against old traditions and a young teenager’s eyes are about to be opened to the real world.
Car Books #5 Anywhere but Here
Anywhere But Here by Mona Simpson is the story of a mother, daughter and a White Lincoln Continental. Large parts of the story happens on the road. The car comes to symbolize everything that is attractive about the mother but also everything that is wrong with her. The car becomes a substitute for a home, a status symbol, all that the mother dreams and aspires to. A raw and disturbing read.
Car Books #6 Carnival
I have reviewed Carnival by Rawi Hage in a previous blog post. It tells the story of a taxi driver and his daily adventure driving around the city picking up various passengers. We get brief glimpses into their lives and then they get out of the taxi and out of the view. Carnival is a collage of stories of people who are marginalized. We witness the mechanics of it and the effects of that on people. Highly recommended read.
Car Books #7 The Driver
The Driver by Hart Hanson tells the story of a war veteran that becomes a limo driver. My criticism of this novel is that it shows the trauma of the American soldier after participating in war yet neglects of even acknowledge the devastating effect the war had on the civilians whose country got invaded. As an Iraqi this just irks me. Placing my disdain for that aspect of things on the side, the is a fun and fast paced read.
What about you? What are your favorite car books? Leave me comment below I would love to know.