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Auto Biography

A Classic Car, an Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream

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Description

An unforgettable ode to American car culture, award-winning author Earl Swift's wise, funny, and captivating narrative follows an outlaw-genius motorhead as he attempts to restore an iconic 1957 Chevy from rusted-out wreck to gleaming, chromed work of American art—before the FBI closes in

A classic '57 Chevy, in wretched shape: Its surviving paint is sun-bleached, salt-pocked, and cracked like a dry lakebed. Its engine hasn't turned over in years. Slumped among hundreds of other rusting hulks on a windswept patch of eastern North Carolina, the Chevy evokes none of the Jet Age optimism that made it the most beloved and instantly recognizable car to ever roll off an assembly line.

But for its unlikely rescuer—a felon arrested seventy-odd times, and a man who's been written off as a ruin himself—the Chevy isn't junk, it's a fossil of the twentieth-century American experience, of a people devoted to and forever changed by the automobile. For Tommy Arney, it's a piece of history, especially so because its decrepit skin conceals a rare asset: a complete provenance, stretching back more than fifty years through twelve previous owners. So, hassled by banks and the FBI, the Chevy's thirteenth owner embarks on a mission to save the car and preserve the long record of human experience it carries with it—before his own volatile demons doom him and the car.

Earl Swift's masterful narrative charts the shifting dreams and fortunes of the people who've gripped this endangered icon's steering wheel, and in the process captures America's strange and abiding relationship with the automobile as no book has before.

Publishers Weekly Review

May 12, 2014 – In this engrossing and entertaining book, Swift (The Big Roads) tells the story of a car—not the story of a classic car model, but the story of a particular 1957 Chevy owned, in the 57 years since its manufacture, by 14 different people. While at first the conceit may seem itself too manufactured, the narrative tactful unfolds with deeply human stories of struggle, ambition, hopes, dreams. The book's main thread follows Tommy Arney, a charming, foul-mouthed, and endlessly interesting businessman, who is tasked with restoring the Chevy to its original glory. We learn along the way the life of the vehicle and how it fit into the lives of its previous owners; we learn too of Arney's past, marked by violence and struggles of his own. Swift is a wonderful guide and the stories he relates are engaging in their own right. Yielded together, though, these vignettes take on a fuller meaning, as the restoration becomes social metaphor.
Auto Biography
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  • $8.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Transportation
  • Published: May 06, 2014
  • Publisher: It Books
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 368 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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