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Christopher Boucher

Christopher Boucher received his MFA in Fiction from Syracuse University. He currently teaches writing and literature at Boston College, and is the managing editor of Post Road Magazine. In his free time, he plays banjo in a bluegrass band.


“As moving as it is fun, How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive is definitely the next book you should read.”

– Adam Levin, author of The Instructions

"Innovative, addictive, bonkers and beautiful"

– Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago

"Christopher Boucher joins a now-forgotten handbook with Steven Wright's old joke about mistakenly sticking a car key in a house door and builds a new, exuberant novel-world. Goofiness and grief are in perfect harmony in this impressive, moving debut."

– Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask

"Boucher is our Brautigan. From an alchemy of melancholy and innocence, he coins beautiful malapropisms that overtake the dogged stretches of our language. A whimsy so charismatic you find yourself thinking and, yes, talking in Boucherisms."

– Salvador Plascencia, author of The People of Paper

"Boucher creates a fun, bluesy work that deals with the difficulty of parenting, coping with loss and how people navigate romantic relationships; in a sense, HTKYVA is an instruction manual for the human heart....Unforgettable." (5/5 STARS)

– Rhea Ramey, Time Out New York

"Writing to save your life—and your 1971 Volkswagen—is at the heart of this wildly imaginative debut. . . . Readers are in for a fresh, memorable ride with this inventive 'collage of loss'"

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Strange and dazzling...Through all the insanity and dizzying leaps of logic that make up Boucher’s world are a series of absolutely human and recognizable truths."

– Emily St. John Mandel, The Millions

"Boucher's first novel is one of the most original books you will read this year."

– Roxane Gay, HTML Giant

"Boucher’s clever turns of phrase and his playfulness with words are also hallmarks of this oddball tale. And despite the wonkiness, the enchanting novelist keeps the plot well-oiled and in gear throughout."

– Austen Diamond, Salt Lake City Weekly

“A work of consummate rice... one lives with the Volkswagen feed by feed.”

– Daily Thermos

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How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive is an essential manual for the romanticist in everyone.


Remember that old red pickup truck you had when you were in high school? The one with the bench seat that was so narrow the middle seater had to straddle the stick shift while you awkwardly rested your arm on their leg when shifting gears? You loved that car, even kept it filled with gas and fresh washing fluid sometimes. Then one afternoon when you were rolling over the last speedbump in the afterschool exodus line the engine fell out, splintered on the cement. You sat for a few moments behind the wheel while the impatient honked behind you, remembering the time you sat in the drive-in theater and kissed that girl until the movie’s soundtrack turned to static. You haven’t seen it in years, but now here it is and damn did you love that automobile.

Christopher Boucher knows how you feel; he’s been there with his ’71 Volkswagen too, broken down in the middle of 91 just outside Northampton, Massachusetts. His bleeding manual How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive instructs on more than how to find the beating engineheart of your VW: it also teaches about the anger, regret, and love that motivate us after the death of a parent.

Written with brilliant wit and a sensitive touch, How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive mimics the style of John Muir’s 1969 manual of nearly the same name, slipping in and out of surrealist car maintenance passages while telling the story of Boucher’s son, his ’71 VW, as they both process the death of Boucher’s father at the hands of the Heart Attack Tree.

I know it sounds like a bizarre premise (it is) and it can be confusing when Boucher guts the definition of words, but the story, and new words, are injected with a glowing, wistful emotion that turn piñatas into evenings filled with small moments of time and girlfriends into women made of stained glass that shatter if they get too cold and are impossible to resist.

Simply, How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive is an essential manual for the romanticist in everyone.

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