How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Novel

It s hard being a single dad raising a son especially if your kid is also a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle There s nothing troubling than having your child break down on the side of the road, leaking oil, overheating, and asking tough questions like, What is death and Why did Mom leave But stay calm Because How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive is not only a dizzyinglyIt s hard being a single dad raising a son especially if your kid is also a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle There s nothing troubling than having your child break down on the side of the road, leaking oil, overheating, and asking tough questions like, What is death and Why did Mom leave But stay calm Because How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive is not only a dizzyingly beautiful novel, it s also a handy manual with useful chapters on Tools and Spare Parts, Valve Adjustment, How To Read This Novel, and, most important of all, How Works a Heart Welcome to Christopher Boucher s zany literary universe, a place where metaphors shift beneath your feet, familiar words assume new meanings, objects talk, trees attack, and time actually is money Modeled on the cult classic 1969 hippie handbook of the same name, How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive is an astonishing tour de force that tackles some of life s biggest questions How do you cope with losing a parent What s the secret to raising a child How do you keep love alive How do you get your car to start
How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive A Novel It s hard being a single dad raising a son especially if your kid is also a Volkswagen Beetle There s nothing troubling than having your child break down on the side of the road leaking oil ove

  • Title: How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Novel
  • Author: Christopher Boucher
  • ISBN: 9781935554639
  • Page: 149
  • Format: Paperback
  • 1 thought on “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Novel”

    1. Don't let me three stars fool anyone. This might have been a four star book. Or a high three? Why am I feeling so ungenerous. I don't know. I partly want to shy people possibly away from the book. I'm afraid that they will not like it much. Why, Greg, do you think that anyone actually reads any of your reviews and then thinks so highly of your opinion that they go out and read something because you gush over it? I don't know. All I can hope is that I don't influence anyone in anything. The thoug [...]

    2. This novel was a breakfast grapefruit - sour, refreshing, occasionally squirting me the eye with acid. All good things, like that underrated start to the culinary day. I should first disclose that I am writing this review codeined to the eyeballs and on deadline for something else. It gives it a frantic and digressive edge. After reading so much fictive bilgewater, ersatz Balzac so removed from the original style of heaving bosoms and toothsome dramatics, as to have entirely forgotten its progen [...]

    3. I guess I should write something as a review if I'm one of the first folks on to finish this book.At its core, "How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive" is a story about a man, his father, and his son. The father is killed by a Heart Attack Tree and the son is a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle. The narrator must handle the loss of his father while raising his car-son alone. It's a familiar plot structure the familiarity of which does not lessen its impact potentialKYVA has one of the characteristics I most de [...]

    4. To say that I don't get it would be a modest understatement.I picked up reading this book because it is my girlfriend's absolute favorite. She has proven to have very good taste in the past and we agreed to read some of each other's most beloved books.This is Christopher Boucher's first, and so far as I know, only work. It's a very personal (so personal it invents words, in fact) exploration of parenting through the lens of completely interpretive metaphor.The speaker remains unnamed throughout [...]

    5. What strange creature are you? What manner of sorcery, Christopher Boucher? So very strange, with its own dream-logic and its own contortions of language. It’s a world built on symbolism and puns and metaphors, and everything still makes sense, and it still manages to be affective. Maybe Kevin Thomas’ damned effective and accurate and so very right comic-review will help do the defining?How the hell do you accomplish a book like this—it’s a baffling and bewildering accomplishment. How to [...]

    6. "VWs are born with the strength of dentist chairs but the minds of children, and they often end up in the junkyard, crushed and taken apart for scenery, because they couldn't trust anyone or refused to be saved.""Cheese made the VW very nervous-the smell of it its skin, its high, rich voice.""All I wanted to do was write, to make something, something wonderfully fake, a power made of dust and blood that I could turn on when I needed it and turn off when I had enough. If I could write myself away [...]

    7. The unnamed narrator--he sold his name to keep his VW alive--is distraught over the death of his father, feels abandoned and alone, that the world is conspiring against him, and has lost the ability to trust along with his identity. He does the only logical thing: he adopts a VW as his son and becomes a lonely writer of stories (which is convenient since his son runs on them). Boucher evokes Jonathan Carroll with the serious themes explored by Borges. The road of life is composed of tones and mu [...]

    8. "Her punch was an ocean."Christopher Boucher's first novel, "How to Keep Your Volkswagon Alive" is about a hapless nameless man and his son, a 1971 Volkswagon Beetle living in Northampton, MA. The language alone, the twisting of metaphor and meaning, is both HTKYVA's immense (surreal) gift and curse. Every page has some invention (money counted in time units), or some odd and wondrous character (The Heart Attack Tree, the Memory of my Father). "The first sign of an old soldier I never knew, his [...]

    9. 2.5 starsThings I understood:1. Everything in this book is literally alive. Buildings, natural phenomena, the state of Coloradoey talk, drive, insult people, etc. Actually, correction: I don't think there any actual people in this book.2. Driving is reading is making music. The road is the story. The car is the book. It gets meta.3. The whole thing is either a metaphor or an acid trip.I don't even know why I finished this book. (Probably had something to do with the fact that I bought it for 600 [...]

    10. fully imagined world but too plodding and plotless for me. it reads like a manual, good in some ways but dont expect it to really go anywhere (the story, like the narrator and metaphorical vw-son, stalls). the literary/story related argot is fine, intriguingbut tedious. i like to believe we all run on hope and stories, too, but the author doesnt take that to the next level, merely explains the idea in the terms of a vw manual. even the presence of northampton+the haymarket+smith college+atkins f [...]

    11. I didn't manage to finish reading this book -- every time I thought about picking it up and continuing, my mind made a frowny face, and after a while I just gave up. Now, normally, a book that I can't even get all the way through doesn't merit 3 stars, but I wanted to give credit where credit is due. Boucher has written a truly unique book here, and while I found his take on surrealism to be a bit on the pretentious/trying-too-hard side, I applaud his efforts to do something different. Also, the [...]

    12. Although I still have a bit of rage at Melville House for Tao Lin and Zachary German, I am willing to forgive. And anyway, this book sounds amazing.

    13. So hard to get through, so so very hard. Whimsical yet wise, crazy yet honest, funny and confusing. My attention span is super short, lately, but I have been trying for a very long time and it is not easy. This book could have been shorter, I would find passages so sweet and evocative that it would make me stop and savor it, but then not start again. Worth a try though!Note: all typos actually are not typos…“…the Tree that attacked my father was poor and hungry, a wanderbus following sound [...]

    14. How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive is a book about mechanics, writing and, inadvertently, Cartesian philosophy of mind. It describes an absurdly improbable world inhabited by two absurdly improbable kinds of creatures: 1) heart-bearing machines that feel, talk, think, and feed on stories and 2) animals that need to make and tell stories in order to fully inhabit their worlds in a satisfying way. In other words, it's a book about that probably extinct, possibly mythical creature called the human b [...]

    15. So I was not really that into this book at the start. It is a terribly difficult and confusing read but after a bit it starts to suck you in. Partially because it seems to be an interesting story but also because you are driven to continue reading just to figure out what the fuck this book is about. Yeah, well, about that See I read this whole damn book and to tell you the truth whole I did enjoy it I cannot, for sure, tell you what it is about.I think it might be about the process of writing an [...]

    16. Sure, this was a book about father-son relationships rather than VWs, but still really? As an absurdist novel it has some merit, as much as absurdist novels go, I suppose. But comparing this to Brautigan? Please. I was reading Bruatigan long before Boucher was born, and while that fails to make me an expert it does, to a point, qualify my opinion. And in one of the reviews posted here Boucher's work was compared to Vonnegut and Pynchon, and that's just wrong. Yes, this was different in its own c [...]

    17. A bizarre, and surprisingly beautiful book about love, loss, and family. While the start is a bit slow, and the writing highly unconventional, I found myself unable to put it down. This is a book that grabs you firmly by the hand, and leads you on an inward journey. You live this book, not just read it. Magical realism at its finest (no disrespect to Karen Russell, but this is the real deal). Reminds me somewhat of Momus's The Book of Jokes, but without the graphic imagery and crude, raunchy plo [...]

    18. Confusing! But I read it in a day, so that's definitely something. One review of this book used the term "ever-shifting" and I think that's a good one, because what anything in this book means or represents is constantly changing. Is it about parenthood or loss of one's own parent or dating or random acts of heart-thievery?Well, yes, but mostly I think it's about the process of writing, even goes so far as to mythologize (lionize?) the writer himself. This, of course, could be annoying, and at t [...]

    19. This is a heartwarming story that follows a man struggling through life while dealing with the death of his father and trying to raise his son. Wait, did I mention that his son is a Volkswagen and his father was killed by a heart attack tree? There is serious imagination going on in this book. Words are shifted in strange ways (Heard the phrase time is money? Well, imagine the two literally switched.). Objects are sometimes living things (it's kind of hard to say sometimes). In short, crazy fun. [...]

    20. Really impressive. And, clearly, not for everyone. It brings to mind names like Richard Brautigan, and Donald Barthelme, and Kurt Vonnegut, and Thomas Pynchon.This book is smart, funny, sad, incomprehensible, and strangely clear if you don't look directly at it. And, even though it has virtually nothing to do with VWs, it brought back pleasant memories of owning my own 1973 VW Beetle, and owning my own copy of John Muir's "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive," way back when.Christopher: if you rea [...]

    21. This book is a beautiful bird that flies all weird. The writing is one of a kind, surrealist in the Brautigan vein but without losing any complexity. There's a logic to it, something you can hang on to, and moments of truth and clarity that you couldn't explain but which ring just right. On the other hand, at some point I realized I wasn't really interested in the plot, and was just reading from one such moment to another, and he could have taken the story in any direction and I wouldn't have be [...]

    22. Given the good editorial reviews and notice this book received, there seems to be people out there who really like books that are entirely in metaphor. I am not one of those people. While I enjoyed some of the stories, I didn't understand a lot of them, and I really didn't like the portions that are meant to be a manual. Maybe if I had ever owned a Beetle or had looked at the actual manual about Volkswagen maintenance I would have appreciated it. I did however enjoy the author's creativity, even [...]

    23. I felt it was like Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" meets Dr. Seuss, with a pinch of Tim Burtonl on LSD.It is certainly quite an extended metaphor; I've never read anything like it.This excerpt sums the fantastical writing style up nicely:"Yes, I think it was, because it was the same day that I bought the corpse of an old accordian who'd gotten in a bar fight and been stabbed and killed. I bought it from a moustached truck who was selling it for two and a half hours."The whole book is like t [...]

    24. This book is definitely sad and lonely, as Boucher will tell you. That said, some of the most compelling visual images I've read are yelling at me to make them into art. I want to see the grapefruit of sadness in someone's belly. I am imagining how the woman made entirely of stained glass looks; her clothes, her skin and inner organs. I'm pretty convinced I have an engineheart that runs on stories. Thank you Boucher for a lovely concept of a book.

    25. I'm very ambivalent about this book. I struggled throughout to understand what the whole point was. I get that it's different, novel, quirky, unique. I was even surprised at the end when I actually felt emotional about the VW's engineheart or whatever. But despite all that, I still went away wondering what the whole point of the story really was And more importantly, wondering if this wacky writing added to or took away from the potential power of the core message.

    26. boucher is compared to brautigan on the back of this book, so i will quote brautigan for my review: "after a while non-stop brilliance has the same effect as non-stop boredom." (Sombrero Fallout)

    27. I'm between liked it and really liked it, a solid 3.5 stars. At about chapter V. Flat Tire! I started to skim some of the mechanical how-tos of the novel and beelined it to the VW story parts. So worth it to stick with it till the end.

    28. Even though this book is very unconventionally written and I'm not 100% sure what exactly happens in it due to the amorphous quality of most everything inside, it still made me care about the characters. I was sad at the end.

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