It's 1975. Bud Salem, 18-years-old, is fleeing his mother's TV church and meets a woman pitching oranges in the Mojave. She's Sylvia Cushman, a 45-year-old housewife, who loves driving alone through the desert. They odyssey through western motels and Apache gas stations where Sylvia gives long lectures about Emily Dickinson and drags Bud up into the mesas to search for petroglyphs. After sharing adventures in Detroit, New York, and Amherst, the travelers part...In many ways Let the Dog Drive is an askew detective novel-- when a character dies under strange circumstances in Texas, Bud goes to the panhandle to uncover what happened. His strange narration does contain pleasures of the genre: a shootout inside an aquarium; a faked death; another shootout on a chicken farm in Texas...But Let the Dog Drive is also a freewheeling merging of many other genres and concerns-- Hollywood, hardboiled novels of the 1930s, Emily Dickinson's white dress, hallucinatory cacti, The Book of Luke...And dogs.
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(5817mm x 3887mm x 24mm)
New York University Press
Publisher: New York University Press
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Bowman's picaresque first novel, winner of the publisher's 1992 Elmer Holmes Bobst Award for Emerging Writers, follows the wildly unlikely love affair of the hitchhiking young son of a TV evangelist with a middle-aged Detroit housewife: playful if insubstantial fare in the Tom Robbins tradition. It's the mid-70's and 18-year-old Bud Salem - a weak-chinned boy whose obese mother leads prayer sessions on TV, whose dead father was a Hollywood private eye, and whose major talent is his ability to read hard-boiled detective novels while driving - takes his hitching thumb to the highway in an attempt to escape his horrific California past. He's soon picked up by another lost soul on the lam: Sylvia Cushman, the fast-talking, red-haired wife of an auto-specialist who regularly abandons her home in Detroit to go on unrestrained cross-country driving sprees. An Emily Dickinson freak who likes to dress in 40's evening wear and pitch oranges out her car window, Sylvia takes Bud on the ride of his sheltered life before abruptly dumping him outside of Toledo when it's time to go home. Forsaken but not helpless, Bud tracks Sylvia down in the suburbs of Detroit - only to find that her life is devoted all too unromantically to her massively allergic younger son, her master's thesis on Dickinson, and her dour, unresponsive husband, whose job description includes crashing test cars that have live dogs as passengers. Appalled, Bud longs to set Sylvia free - but after many a mind-boggling encounter with Iranian terrorism, religious conversion, suicide, and castration threats, it's writing, rather than living, that Bud learns to love. A garish, thrill-a-minute roller-coaster ride, always bold if not particularly inspiring. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - David Bowman
David Bowman was born in Racine, Wisconsin, but now lives in New York City. This, his first novel, was written in Montauk. He is currently writing a biography of Paul Cain (1902-1966), an enigmatic contemporary Hammett who lived and died in Hollywood.