Robert Rorke discusses and signs Car Trouble, in conversation with Amy E. Wallen
Nicky Flynn is coming-of-age in 1970s 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, resilient, 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 car junkers, 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 abuse, Nicky, his mother, and sisters brace themselves for an inevitable sharp turn in their addled lives. Narrated with humor and a rueful awareness, Car Trouble is an exhilarating novel about acceptance, regret, compassion, and finding your authentic adult self amid the rubble and rumble of growing up. (Harper Perennial)
Amy E. Wallen is associate director at the New York State Summer Writers Institute and teaches creative writing at the University of California, San Diego Extension. Her first novel, MoonPies and Movie Stars, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller.