Driver’s Education, the second novel from Grant Ginder, is an eccentric
portrait of three generations of McPhee men and the power of their fantastic
stories — which blur the boundaries of fiction, reality, and truth — to unite
them. It’s “the kind of book that will
make other young writers crumple their manuscripts and unplug their computers,”
says National Book Critics Circle Award winner Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life and Chang and Eng, calling it “a meticulously observed family story; a
social fiction that involves everything from reality TV to truth-telling in the
Internet age; funny and sad, smart and exciting.” The novel combines the twists, turns, and
magic of a perfect road trip with the joy, resentment, and deep love that hold
a grandfather, father, and son together.
Finn thought his
grandfather’s story — all of his stories — were over by now. But when the dying man phones from San Francisco with a
strange request, Finn is given the chance to go on one of the great Alastair
McPhee’s adventures. Once, Alastair
roamed the country in a beloved, tetchy ’56 Bel Chevy Air named Lucy, getting
into trouble and collecting stories that have since taken on the status of myth.
Now he wants Finn to find the old car in New
York City and bring her to him, revisiting the sites
of those exploits along the way. “She’s in Chinatown
with a man named Yip,” Alastair whispers.
The McPhee men are fabulists
almost by nature. For years, Alistair amused barroom audiences with yarns about
taking shelter from a wrecking ball inside a makeshift house built of records, catching
Ernie Banks’ 500th home run, and falling in love with a beautiful pilot who gave
up her chance at fame and decided to never grow old. While he was out wandering,
mourning a wife who died too soon, his son Colin raised himself, turning a devotion
to movies into a career as a screenwriter — a career that stalled after a
single breakout success.
“If there was one
thing my father taught me, it was that endings never work out the way you want
them to,” Colin writes. But on this exquisitely crafted journey, Colin and Finn
learn that their stories are bigger than the mundane facts behind them. And
that endings can be rewritten — and in the rewriting, they can become far more true.
About Grant Ginder:
Grant Ginder is the author of
This Is How It Starts and Driver’s Education. He received his MFA
from NYU and lives in New York City.