Set in 1970s Brooklyn, CAR TROUBLE is an uncommonly warm coming of age debut novel from a fierce new talent, Robert Rorke. The story follows Nicky Flynn: an aspiring young actor at St. Michaels Diocesan high school. Nicky is keenly observant—especially when it comes to his abusive, alcoholic father, Patrick. Enigmatic, coasting on charm and desperation, Patrick enjoys picking up old junkers for cheap at NYPD auctions—each sputtering, tail-finned treasure subsidized by poker games. But when Patrick’s love for broken-down vintage cars begins to rival his obsession with alcohol, he threatens his family’s stability and careens wildly out of control.
Dominic Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, raves: “Car Trouble was such a pleasure to read! [Rorke] has managed to create a character in Patrick Flynn who is nuanced and complicated, a man who is by turns savage and kind, vengeful and worried, vain and defeated but also striving and proud. Bravo! This is a coming of age story, but it is also so much more than that.”
In this action-packed family drama, Rorke paints a realistic, portrait of a flawed father-son relationship. Readers will be transported to historic, tension-filled 1970s Brooklyn and reconnect with cultural icons of the era such as Gil Hodges, savior of the New York Mets; walk along Rockaway Beach and Bedford Avenue—the longest street in Brooklyn—pre-gentrification; drive Pontiacs, Buicks, Skylarks, Green Hornets; get drunk on Whiskey Sours, Sevens and Sevens, Tom Collins; and commit crimes with Brooklyn gangsters. Rorke recreates the 70s romanticism of car culture and what it meant to be a “Brooklynite” before Brooklyn was cool; when it was still a rough, rundown, industrial outer borough; before brownstones and Utica Avenue were regarded as prime real estate.
Narrated with humor and a rueful awareness, CAR TROUBLE is an exhilarating novel about acceptance, regret, and finding your authentic adult self. Reminiscent of such classics as This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff and more recent titles including One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel, Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, and Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson, Rorke joins the ranks of writers to watch. CAR TROUBLE brings power to the page and is well worth your attention.