The Resource Car trouble : a novel, Robert Rorke

Car trouble : a novel, Robert Rorke

Label
Car trouble : a novel
Title
Car trouble
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Robert Rorke
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Nicky Flynn is coming of age in 1970's Brooklyn, riding into his sophomore year at St. Michaels, the last hurrah of the Diocesan school system. A budding young actor, Nicky is at once sensitive, resiliant, exasperated, and keenly observant - especially when it comes to his father, Patrick. Undeniably enigmatic, and coasting on vanity, charm, and desperation, "Himself," as Nicky calls his father, is given to picking up old junker cars for cheap at NYPD auctions - each sputtering, tail-finned treasure subsidized by poker games. To Patrick, these chrome glamour tanks are his obsessions, repairable reminders of the past when he was young, and everything seemed new and gleaming and possible - before he had a family. For Nicky, each one is a milestone. Whether it's a harrowing joy ride or a driving lesson, they're unforgettable markers on his path toward an unpredictable future. But as Patrick's compulsions slide into alcoholism and violence, Nicky, his mother, and his sisters brace themselves for an inevitable sharp turn in their rattled lives
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • ​Nicky’s father, whom Nicky calls Himself, loves old cars—more bluntly, junkers—which he routinely buys at police auctions. Fondly, he gives them names. Thus: the Black Beauty, a 1958 Pontiac Parisienne; the Pink Panther, a 1956 Ford Fairlane convertible; and more. Unfortunately, the father is also an alcoholic. When he loses his job because of his drinking, his life begins a long downward spiral: he stops coming home, hanging out at dive bars instead; he becomes increasingly abusive; and then he gets a gun. Teenage Nicky tells this sad story in his own, often eloquent, first-person voice (the father lumbers “like a tugboat moving through wet cement”; a bridge is a “battleship blue and shaped like a steel caterpillar”). Even as his father’s life is devolving, Nicky’s is evolving as he comes of age in this sometimes funny but always melancholy novel. With a vividly realized setting—Brooklyn in the 1970s—the story is sharply written, inviting deep empathy from readers, who will find universal truths in this compelling tale of a single family. -- Michael Cart (Reviewed 8/1/2018) (Booklist, vol 114, number 22, p13)
  • Rorke’s nostalgia-laden debut combines the tense father-son dynamic of Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini with the automobile wonkiness of an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Readers are introduced to Patrick Flynn, the charismatic father of an Irish-American clan in pregentrified 1970s Brooklyn, as seen through the eyes of his son, Nicky, a sophomore at St. Michael the Archangel high school. Presiding over a household of five children, Patrick is in the habit of buying cars on the cheap at police auctions; he repaints them and gives them such colorful names as the Blue Max, the Green Hornet, and the Black Beauty. But under the bright paint jobs, these cars are barely running, which turns out to be an apt metaphor for Patrick himself, who is more flash than substance, a flaw that Nicky is wise to: Patrick loses jobs, drinks heavily, gets into fights, and abuses his family. At the same time, Nicky discovers his own budding interest in theater and cooking, and takes his first tentative steps towards becoming an independent adult, which puts him on an eventual collision course with his increasingly erratic father. Though it has a vivid sense of time and place, Rorke’s novel is overlong and sentimental. (Sept.) --Staff (Reviewed 11/12/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 46, p)
  • A charming, self-destructive Irish-American father takes his family on a troubled joy ride. "Vintage car" is a loaded phrase in New York Post TV editor Rorke's evocative debut, which introduces the Flynns, a working-class family struggling to stay afloat in 1970s Brooklyn. Patrick Flynn is a charismatic, impulsive drunk who grandly brings home a string of cars with nicknames like The Black Beauty—a '58 Pontiac Parisienne—bought on the cheap at police auctions and later ditched because of engine problems. The cars are beautiful, but their insides are rotted out—just like Flynn's own promises to his children and long-suffering wife Claire. "Dad operated purely on instinct, which didn't always work in his favor," says his teenage son, Nicky, the narrator. Nicky balances the story of his father's decline with his own maturing awareness of life, especially a love of acting that hints at his future theater career. At times the story arc feels a little predictable and the scenes unnecessarily padded out, but Rorke's writing is always assured as he paints a charming portrait of 1970s family life right down to the Amana fridge in the kitchen and Filet-O-Fish Fridays for the Catholic school kids during Lent. Rorke avoids easy psychologizing to explain Pat's behavior; Nicky never tries to understand why his father seesaws between the roles of family man and "Himself," a nickname the family gives his drunken alter ego. The closest Nicky ever gets to an answer comes one night when he finds his father at the Dew Drop, a local bar, and heartbreakingly realizes it is packed with men just like Pat Flynn, "playing the away game from their families." What readers learn in Rorke's moving, bittersweet story is that hard realizations are often necessary on the road to discovering one's true self. (Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2018)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10733689
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1955-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Rorke, Robert
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Teenagers
  • High school students
  • Alcoholics
  • Violence
  • Families
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Label
Car trouble : a novel, Robert Rorke
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier.
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent.
Dimensions
21 cm.
Extent
406 pages
Isbn
9780062848499
Isbn Type
(pbk.)
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia.
Media type code
  • n
Specific material designation
regular print
Label
Car trouble : a novel, Robert Rorke
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier.
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent.
Dimensions
21 cm.
Extent
406 pages
Isbn
9780062848499
Isbn Type
(pbk.)
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia.
Media type code
  • n
Specific material designation
regular print

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