The Car: Stuart Larner

This is a cut&paste of a review I did on Amazon. Full text follows:

The Car     Stuart Larner

pictures and diagrams; car experiences, explanations in sonnets (!)

four stars

Really unusual works are hard to rate.  So as always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let’s get to my task: to describe this work to you.

Larner can do social commentary, as in Checking One Out, where the author slyly comments on the owners trying to sell a used car. “Inside seems strange, their car scent makes me cough. /Well-spruced today, but some days not at all.” The sellers’ home and vehicle are gently mentioned in a similar vein.

There are insights into British motoring, more than just calling the trunk ‘the boot’ and jack et cetera ‘breakdown tools.’ This is a fun walk into another culture, at least for this Canadian reader.

There are explanations that range from almost-praying that a car will start, to details of how essential parts work. For example, the cooling system diagram is from a Model T Ford. Much of the technology mentioned is from the simpler era where interested folk like myself actually understood how ignition, timing (and other things, like suspension) worked.

If you’re scrolling for the tiny carps, stop here. There is the odd phrase which I didn’t get. That’s it. Back to  the good stuff.

A favourite here is Epithalamium, which includes this: “The starter cranks its bridal march for this: /The well-groomed air drawing your vapour veil. /Both mists co-mingling in one tingling kiss /To share a breath that burns as you exhale.”

For a bizarre and fascinating explanation, turn to The Right Gear, which is told from the point of view of a cog.

I should mention the images included in this book. They are all credited at the end. All are appropriate for the sonnet each accompanies. It is clear that the author chose these images with care. They vary from photos of cars, of car components, to diagrams of engines, carburetors, ignition systems.

Fittingly, the volume ends with The Garden of Remembrance – a scrap yard.

Back to the star count. This is my standard boilerplate:
My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent.

Larner’s sonnets vary from literary to mechanical description. The images are all relevant. The work is imho unique. So is it best in genre? Worst in genre?

If you’re looking for some car nostalgia, this book is for you. If you’re looking to explain the automobile to a relative neophyte, this will definitely help. Four stars seems a fair rating for a general audience; your personal rating may well be higher.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

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