The best piece of racing fiction I've ever read. The tale of how 18 year old Buddy Palumbo falls in with the East Coast sports car racing scene in the early 50s (losing his virginity on the way) is wise, witty, warm and written with a razor-sharp eye for character and detail. It's a book about racing and racers, a statement about class and money in America (and the difference between the two), a piece of fifties nostalgia, a charming coming-of-age tale, and an absolutely brilliant read. "Catcher in the Rye" with overhead cams. Fantastic.
There is a certain masterly humorous way in which this author not only writes, but views the world. The Last Open Road far transcends car racing. This is a book about coming of age in both mind and body (Buddy Palumbo's and a few others). If ever one could wish himself into a role as a character in a novel, this is it. To us younger readers, sportscar racing in the 1950's seems like a swashbuckling experience that I am sorry I couldn't participate in...This book is simply marvelous!
I read this book in its self-published version (before St. Martin)and was blown away by its eloquence, knee-slapping humor, sensitivity and excitement. It is as close to Catcher In The Rye as anything I've read since high school (35 years ago) -- an entertaining story line coupled with an engagingly candid perspective on the times and the people in them. For those who might look at the cover of the book and conclude that it is about sports car racing, they won't be disappointed, but they will find many surprises in the story that touch the heart and soul of a not-so-street-smart young man rubbing elbows with the too-street-smart racing set. The conclusions our hero draws are always fun and often thought-provoking. This is a book for anyone who really likes a great story.
Having been to many of the places written about in the book, including Elk Hart Lk, this evicted many memories. I travelled to many races this year and I used this book as a primer. I also visited a concours show in Visalia Ca and talked about this book to some Jag owners and I saw some representative vehicles similar to the ones that were mentioned in the book. Since my friend bought his copy of the book at the Indy 500 memorabilia show back in 97, I have been upset that I never purchased my own copy. I tried many places, and finally found it at amazon!!
Simple story, self taught mechanic gets the racing bug, fixes rich peoples's cars, takes over the service station and turns it into a racing garage, oh, and falls in love and gets his girl. But the real enjoyment is how the author has captured blue-collar 1950s New Jersey culture, language, attitudes, etc. so accurately. The book will resonate strongly with anyone alive during that time in that place, who will immediately hear their friends talking, remember the cars, the bravado and be reminded of all their neighbours. For everyone else, it's still a charming easy read.
This is an excellent book that captures the ssence of sports cars, early sports car racing and life in general. The first time that I picked it up I intended to read for a few minutes before falling asleep -- 270 pages later I had to force myself to put it down at 2:00 A.M. -- I had to get up in three hours and go to work. This is the best book that I have ever read -- I've read my copy (a signed first edition) five times now. I even bought another copy to lend to friends and family.
Are you over forty? Were you into sports cars in the late forties/early fifties? This novel will bring back a flood of memories....and if you're younger, well this is the way it was!! While I know Mr. Levy's work from his magazine articles & columns, the rich texture of this book, it's attention to (correct!!)detail is a delight! Kudo's, Mr. Levy....and, uh, you're sure not gonna leave us hanging as to the further exploits of Buddy, are ya?
I loved this book for several reasons. It really captures the essance of being an auto enthusiast. It paints a great picture of the early days of sports car racing in this country. The book is honest - there are no added surprises, unexpected murders, unneccessary suspense, etc. It's just a good story. Any sports car enthusiast or racer should read it.
To a early-twenties person, like myself,it is a perfect recreation of the 1950s grassroots race scene and a early 50's love story. It surrounds the New Jersey open-road race circuit of the 1950's through the eyes of a young garage mechanic with a going passion for foreign cars and his new girlfriend.
I bought the original edition of this book from the author himself two years ago at Mid-Ohio, and fell in love instantly. As a young pup (only 19 myself), I found the book to hold true today, and it is such an inspiration as I start my own path into motor racing...