Is the automobile the new dog? David Bromige’s Thurberesque title suggests that it is. In this collection of humorous stories, prose poems, and casual essays, Bromige gives us modern life as it was lived in by a romantically complicated Northern Californian male from the 1950s through the 1980s—and as it was seen from behind the wheel of a T-Bird, a Volkswagen Beetle, and a BMW.
Bromige’s stories capture the concentrated essence and the startling insight of poetry in everyday language. He writes about grad students striving and slackers growing slacker; about young love flowering and old marriages foundering; about poets and therapists and, quite often, about Sven, a poor immigrant lad whose great ambition is to own a Cadillac but who is endearingly, tearfully attached to his aging ’75 Chevy Nova. A charming memento of a bygone era, this book will remind many people of a certain age about what they once thought they needed, and about how that neediness felt.
The anatomy of a Bromige [story] goes something like this: a voice fed-up with solitude finds an excuse to relate to someone else, usually a woman, and the result is either a brief sexual encounter or a querulous friendship. It is told to us in language that breaks into interjections, interrupted pathways, commentaries on the self and situation, a joke or two, brief flashes of lyrical music . . . [Instead of a conventional story,] one is given a mind at work, the processes by which a self engages the world to escape from solipsism and fantasy.