A Book-of-the-Month Club selection, this is a deceptively funny, complex saga about a boy, a stolen automobile and the South in 1905. When Lucius' grandfather (a white gentleman) buys one of the town's first automobiles, the car is instantly adopted by Boon Hogganbeck (white), an amiable but childlike employee and family responsibility. Presently, in the family's absence, the machine-infatuated Boon persuades eleven year old Lucius to ""borrow"" the car and drive with him to Memphis. Ned, a shrewd, older Negro (but related to Lucius) goes with them. After a wild, muddy trip, the three arrive at a Memphis whorehouse where Boon has a girl, Miss Corrie. Lucius, an innocent, scarcely has time to wonder about his surroundings before Ned shows up, with a horse he claims to have swapped for the car and which he plans to race in a nearby town, to win back both car and horse. These dark schemes soon have whorehouse inhabitants, trainmen, deputies and others scurrying around, smuggling the horse up country, and chasing Miss Corrie's degenerate kid nephew who, having told Lucius the facts of life and caused Miss Corrie to reform out of shame, has now stolen a gold tooth. The hurly- burly continues, with most of the party in jail during a chaotic trio of races. But Miss Corrie, by relapsing briefly, bails out Ned and the horse he has trained to win, in time for Lucius to ride it to victory. Ned's motives prove to have been to help another of his and Lucius' mixed kin; Boon marries Miss Corrie; and all is forgiven....But, under the fun, there is a definition and of the passing of the old order. Ned has forced recognition of himself and Boon has become the machine-age-man. The Family Retainers have escaped, and their of freedom are based on certain inalienable truths which form a heady combination. It is a fine, wild, poignant book.