Set in the 1950s, Lindsay’s first work of fiction follows the adolescence of Sonny Mitchell as he and his buddies get into trouble, tinker with cars and grow up bit by bit.
This coming-of-age novel set in Willamette, Ore., tours the physical, emotional and, most importantly, vehicular landscapes of the 1950s as seen by young narrator Sonny, who’s always flanked by his gang of pals. The crew never tires of living up to the name given to them by a local curmudgeon: “little bastards.” Spinning an easygoing American tale, Sonny wheels his way around a fairly charmed youth, working on farms, drooling after cars and girls, and listening to rock ’n’ roll. As he and his posse get older, they find themselves deeply obsessed with the hot rod and drag racing scenes, and much of the drama of the novel unfolds around souping up cars and competing with peers for the titles of fastest and flashiest—not that there’s too much action moving the plot forward. Rather, Lindsay prefers to ruminate repeatedly on the fun and freedom of being a hot-rodding, blue-collar boy in the ’50s, a nostalgia clearly close to his heart. Despite the lack of action, the prose is breezy, and the novel will interest readers who lived through the era, particularly car lovers and especially men. Indeed, Lindsay focuses heavily on masculinity, sometimes so much so that a whiff of misogyny seems near. The fact that Sonny has a sister is mentioned just twice, and the hormones rage unchecked; at one point, Sonny describes checking out a girl at the pool with his friends as “weighing and judging like it was a meat auction.”
An easy though sometimes meandering bildungsroman best suited for dudes into cars, girls and teenage defiance.