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Driver's Education: A Novel Hardcover – January 8, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439187355
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439187357
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #729,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Fathers and sons seek clarity, closure, and fresh starts in Ginder’s (This Is How It Starts, 2009) raw, insightfully detailed examination of the men in one family. Alistair McPhee’s beloved wife, Lucy, died when their son, Colin, was only nine. Alistair’s almost equally beloved ’56 Chevy Bel Air, named after his wife, ferried young Alistair through myriad adventures he shared with his son and, later, his grandson, Finn. Mind and body seemingly hampered by strokes, Alistair now lives in San Francisco with Colin, a struggling screenwriter. One day, Finn receives an imperious phone call from Alistair to fetch Lucy from a New Yorker, Yip, who has watched over her for many years, and drive her to Alistair in San Francisco so he can have one last glorious adventure with her. Finn, his ne’er-do-well friend, Randall, and an alarmingly charismatic cat named Mrs. Dalloway take off on this unexpected road trip. Along the way, they realize there is a fine line between storytelling and truth telling and that living a meaningful life requires a balancing act both precarious and beautiful. Lively, funny, gritty, and achingly real, Ginder’s sophomore effort should appeal to fans of Junot Díaz and Michael Chabon. --Julie Trevelyan


"A sensitively observed story about storytelling." (The New Yorker)

“Ginder’s writing is colorful, direct, and imaginative . . . At times, it is also achingly poignant . . . Driver’s Education is a stirring, memorable trip.” (Boston Globe)

“Magical realism with a dose of Middle American grit . . . What’s most special here are the novel’s freewheeling style and its willingness to engage big questions: How family stories originate, how they’re warped over time, and what they tell us about ourselves and our heritage.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“[Ginder] manages to wrap unselfconscious quirkiness up in some very fine writing indeed, without ever sacrificing the story or the characters. A rare feat, in my reading experience, making it one of those—also rare—books I want to read aloud just for the joy of hearing precisely how the words have been strung together.” (New York Journal of Books)

“Every once in a while, you read a book that you just can’t shut up about. Driver’s Education is that kind of book.” (Portland Book Review)

“A sentimental story of fathers and sons, the power of imagination, and a hilarious road trip from New York to the West Coast. . . . [Ginder] is a master storyteller.” (Washington Independent Review of Books)

“Lively, funny, gritty, and achingly real, Ginder’s sophomore effort should appeal to fans of Junot Diaz and Michael Chabon.” (Booklist (starred review))

"Part fairy tale, part picaresque, part coming-of-age tale, Driver's Education blends reality and the imagined in a sentimental brew about the stories that bind generations." (Publishers Weekly)

“An absorbing look at family history and the stories through which it is told.” (Library Journal)

"Ginder, author of the novel This Is How It Starts, conjures an exciting cross-country journey, and an even more exciting journey across the lives and memories of a family." (Zyzzyva)

Driver’s Education is the kind of book that will make other young writers crumple their manuscripts and unplug their computers. With a sniper's eye, Grant Ginder takes the whole of American Life in his crosshairs. A meticulously-observed family story; a social fiction that involves everything from reality TV to truth-telling in the Internet age; funny and sad, smart and exciting, Driver’s Education is a great book.” (Darin Strauss author of Half a Life and Chang and Eng)

“With Driver's Education, Grant Ginder has come home with more than just the great pleasures—the sites, stops, journeys and stories—of an ideal road trip. He's also given us an exquisite portrait of the mysteries, accusations, and bonds that link every father and son. And he's also given us another sort of education: it's a novel that reminds you how beautiful and moving a story, when told by an expert, can be. The novel gives all the pleasures and reminds us of the real highway we spend our lives on, that wherever we travel begins and ends at the same destination. It's an extraordinary book.” (David Lipsky author of Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself)

Drivers Education takes us on a sharply observed, hilarious romp across the country (in a rusty yellow Bel Air named Lucy, copiloted by a three-legged consumptive cat named Mrs. Dalloway) managing all the while to tell a tender, heartfelt story about fathers and sons and storytelling itself. There are lies we tell ourselves while we're out looking for the truth, and Ginder reveals them in all their craggy, impossible complexity. Beautiful.” (Haley Tanner author of Vaclav and Lena)

“Call them con artists, storytellers, lunatics, or heroes, the characters that fill Ginder’s vast and imaginative world will stay with you long after you’ve put the book down. They’re funny and sad and poignant and true—perfect reflections of our imperfect selves.” (Karl Taro Greenfeld author of Triburbia)

“This sweet ride tours the wild and wobbly nature of fiction with the inspired guidance of three generations of the tenderest tale spinners who ever tweaked the facts. It’s funny, warm and smart.” (Katherine Dunn)

More About the Author

Grant Ginder is the author of THIS IS HOW IT STARTS and DRIVER'S EDUCATION. He received his MFA from NYU, where he teaches writing. He lives in New York City. See more of Grant at

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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I look forward to the next!
This book kept me engaged from page 1.
David McCarty
Love the author's style of writing!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. on January 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In the current wave of teen vampires and fifty shades of depressing, Grant Ginder has provided for readers a true gem-- a novel that's grounded by its classical storytelling bones, and elevated by its very modern, fresh, and nuanced sensibility. Ginder's line-for-line prose is just beautiful. I'm not one to usually write in my books, but I simply couldn't read this novel without a pen in hand as I felt the constant need to underline those unforgettable sentences, observations, and moments, that only a real talent could cook up. DRIVER'S EDUCATION is a thoroughly researched, carefully crafted story which explores those ever-blurry, ever-fascinating, lines between fact and fiction, truth and reality, parent and child, and life and death. Bought it on Tuesday, finished it on Wednesday. Enough said!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Driver's Education is a multigenerational story in the sense that the primary characters are a young man, his father, and his (mostly unseen) grandfather. As is common in modern novels, both time and point of view shift frequently.

In sections of the novel labeled "What I Remember," Colin McPhee talks about his life. He starts in 1956, at the grand opening of a theater called the Avalon. Movies and the Avalon play a large role in his young life, particularly after his mother dies. Colin's love of movies apparently motivates his desire to write screenplays and in 1974, after he moves to Hollywood and sells one, he rather improbably reunites with Clare, a former Avalon co-worker who is now an aspiring actress. When Finn is born, Clare comes to resent Colin's love for his son (she actually tells him that he should love Finn less). At this point, believing not a word of Colin's story, I was asking "Who are these people?" They certainly aren't people I recognize.

The screenplay, Colin's only successful writing venture, is followed by twenty years of writers' block. At some point Colin begins taking care of his father (largely absent from his life after Colin's mother died) who had a stroke and apparently suffers from a form of dementia. Nearing the end of his life, Colin's father feels the need to drive his car (Lucy) again, so he calls Finn and asks him to bring the car from New York to San Francisco.

Finn is an assistant story editor on a reality TV show that resembles The Real World. His job is to "guide" the reality. Finn and his friend Randall recover Lucy and begin a road trip. Along the way Finn tells Randall some tedious stories that his grandfather used to tell. Finn wants to document those stories and brings along a video camera for that purpose.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By rocknrollsuicide on February 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
'Driver's Education' floored me. When I first picked it up, I was so impressed with the opening section, I read it aloud to my father. A few weeks later, when he was driving through Staten Island (don't ask!) he called to tell me Ginder's prose had come back to him as he drove past the Kill. It is a feat to make the Staten Island dumps a thing of beauty.

'Education' is, in the most basic sense, the story of a young man going on a quest to understand his grandfather. Finn, an editor for an [insert name of groundbreaking reality TV show past its prime], is tasked with bringing Lucy, an aging car, to California, where Alistair is now dying. Along the road Finn is able to retell (and ruminate on) the often fantastical stories his grandfather told about his past. Meanwhile, in California, Finn's father, Colin, watches his father deteriorate, and explores his own memories of his dad.

This is very much a book of fathers and sons (see above paragraph), but also a text exploring what exactly makes a meaningful story. Cleverly, and poignantly, Ginder manages to explore well worn territory (what makes a narrator reliable? what is fiction? what is fact? does it matter?) in truly novel ways. What is the responsibility we have to tell our own stories truthfully, and what if there is no such thing as truth at all? Somewhere, in a fictitious universe, Ginder manages to comment on the inherent fictions in the universes we create for ourselves. It is an unusual book that manages to ask those sort of questions meaningfully without losing sight of the fact that its first priority is to tell a really good story. So when I say I laughed and I cried, I'm being quite serious. (And books often make me cry, but rarely make me laugh.)

I read a lot of contemporary fiction I don't like very much, so ... You can take this *without* a grain of salt. It's a truly wonderful book. I look forward to the next!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. Gordon on February 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book after reading a glowing review about it in Vanity Fair. I quickly flew through the pages- as this was one of my favorite novels I have read in years. The concept of the story really made me think about how we pass down stories- and the evolution that they make throughout generations. There is also an underlying theme about Fathers and Sons- and the way they relate to each other. It is written in a way that you just cannot put it down- as you want to know what happens next. But what I liked best is that it is more than just a quickly written story. There is a true appreciation for the English language in the construction of the Ginder's paragraphs. Definitely a 5 star review on this one.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David McCarty on January 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book kept me engaged from page 1. It's funny, heart-warming, imaginative, and extremely smart. Ginder is a great story teller. The book touches on the important (and difficult) relationships with family, the role reality TV plays in our lives, family legend, and friendship. I highly recommended it.
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