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How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive

A Novel

If you think raising a kid in today’s world is hard, imagine how tough it would be if your child also happened to be a Volkswagen Beetle. And not a modern Beetle at that, but a 1960’s era Bug who tended to forget himself racing joyously and heedlessly down the highway, only to break down on the side of the road, puking oil. It’s enough to help a man cope with the recent death of his father, and focus on the dizzying, beautiful here and now of his fragile child.

Welcome to Christopher Boucher’s zany and brilliant literary universe, a place where metaphors shift beneath your feet, familiar words suddenly assume new meaning, tools talk, trees walk, and where time is actually money.

Modeled on the bestselling 1969 hippie handbook of the same title, this wildly inventive tale is both a stunning tour-de-force and a wise and charming consideration of the stuff of great fiction: death, love, loss, responsibility, and road trips.

With the hyperkinetic spark of George Saunders and the surrealist humanism of Aimee Bender, How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive marks the arrival of a fiction-making Mozart.

CHRISTOPHER BOUCHER received his MFA in Fiction from Syracuse University, where he studied with George Saunders and Junot Díaz. Before moving to Syracuse, he worked as the Arts and Entertainment Writer for The Daily Hampshire Gazette, and drove (when it started) a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle. He currently teaches writing and literature at Boston College, and is the managing editor of Post Road Magazine. In his free time, he plays banjo in a bluegrass band.

“As moving as it is fun, How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive is definitely the next book you should read.” —Adam Levin, author of The Instructions

”Strange and dazzling…Through all the insanity and dizzying leaps of logic that make up Boucher’s world are a series of absolutely human and recognizable truths.” —Emily St. John Mandel, The Millions

”Writing to save your life—and your 1971 Volkswagen—is at the heart of this wildly imaginative debut… Readers are in for a fresh, memorable ride with this inventive ’collage of loss’” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

”Boucher is our Brautigan. From an alchemy of melancholy and innocence, he coins beautiful malapropisms that overtake the dogged stretches of our language. A whimsy so charismatic you find yourself thinking and, yes, talking in Boucherisms.” —Salvador Plascencia, author of The People of Paper

”Boucher creates a fun, bluesy work that deals with the difficulty of parenting, coping with loss and how people navigate romantic relationships; in a sense, HTKYVA is an instruction manual for the human heart….Unforgettable.” (5/5 STARS) —Rhea Ramey, Time Out New York

”This is a head-tilting exercise in literary shape-shifting.” —Identity Theory

”Innovative, addictive, bonkers and beautiful” —Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago

”Accomplished, wrenching.” —The Kenyon Review

”Boucher’s first novel is one of the most original books you will read this year.” —Roxane Gay, HTMLGiant

”Boucher is a deft mechanic…possessed of a special skill to diagnose malfunctioning language by ear, to hear where words are misaligned….” —Eamon O’Connor, Full-Stop 

”Boucher’s clever turns of phrase and his playfulness with words are also hallmarks of this oddball tale. And despite the wonkiness, the enchanting novelist keeps the plot well-oiled and in gear throughout.” —Austen Diamond, Salt Lake City Weekly

”A beautiful story…genius.” —Daily Utah Chronicle

”There is a fair amount of vulgar language used and taking the Lord’s name in vain. There are references to premarital sex, which the author calls ’faith or faithing.’” —The Deseret News

“A work of consummate rice… one lives with the Volkswagen feed by feed.” —Daily Thermos

”Sparkles like a section horse.” —Tin Pope Manager

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