"I wish someone had told me about this Dick Mobius cult before I got started. H. Melville."
Auto Flick is a multi-tiered novel of substance that indulges in whimsy. It is the story of a father and son, "Speedy" and "Izzy." Set in 1968, as well as the 1990s and 2000s, the story is Izzy's account of his reporter father's life lessons, curiosity, and compassion. Speedy's lessons resurface in Izzy's later life to influence the younger man's relationship with his own teenage son.
Speedy and Izzy share bonds. A major one is a passion for Herman Melville's, Moby-Dick. Passages from the novel guide each during social and moral dilemmas, as well as tragedy. Another is an appreciation of cars, and their influence on people. In 1968, enlightened Speedy becomes intrigued by people in cars who flick, toss, or throw their cigarettes from their cars. Whenever possible, he confronts the smoker about the unfortunate practice. True to his Quaker origins, however, his confrontations, frequently witnessed and documented by Izzy, are performed politely, without apparent judgement. As time goes by, however, Speedy creates stickers for the cars that state that the driver flicks cigarettes.
Both growth and tragedy occur during the summer that Izzy is seventeen. His uncle James is brain-injured in a surfing accident. This foreshadows an accident that affects the family even more profoundly, at a time when Izzy discovers emotional strength, as well as his initiation to sex and his first serious relationship.
The "auto flick" study is put on hold for decades, until Izzy, now the father of a teenaged son, feels a desire to resurrect it. His son, at first as bemused by the "study" as Izzy once was, in his turn becomes intrigued by it, and his father's admirable, if unusual, subject. Bancroft deals with the multiple situations of the extraordinary-within-the-ordinary nearly seamlessly. The novel is thoroughly enjoyable for the excellent storytelling and character development.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
reviewed by Carolyn Davis