Mill Soderstrom has been away at college, training in architecture, but now he's returned to his small Oregon town without a degree; welcomed by huge family disappointment, he's looking to pick up some small pieces of his life. Largest of these is his hot-rod, lovingly and long restored. He takes a job at a local garage, Fronty's, and tools his car back into shape. Only incidentally, he has desultory romantic entanglements with two young women: Joanie, a rich heiress; and Eddie, a car-hop at a local drive-in. But, although Eddie has led Mill on (so that he finally rapes her, an act which Drake seems to endorse), she actually belongs to Mill's punky and resentful younger brother Tonto--which generates the book's only (and very minor) dramatic conflict. And though Drake writes about engines and transmissions and tachometers and tires with the specificity of an enthusiast, most of his narration is situated in a swamp of would-be lyricism: paragraphs caked into lines of poetry or split into parallel vertical columns (meant to suggest co-existing emotions). Good on hot-rods, then, but pretentious and amateurish everywhere else.