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The Last Open Road: the Last Open Road, Book 1


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The Last Open Road: the Last Open Road, Book 1

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It's like no audio book you've ever listened to! Re-imagined by the author as a 1950's-style radio play, the audio presentation of B.S. Levy's The Last Open Road features professional Hollywood voice actors in the major roles, amazing and authentic sound effects, period music and a cast of over 40 players, including many famous motorsports personalities. The Last Open Road audio book won multiple awards as “The Best Motoring Book of the Year,” and several reviewers—including non-gearheads—have called it the most entertaining and unique audio book ever.

The print edition of The Last Open Road was originally self-published in 1994 after being turned down by major fiction publishers, but earned rave reviews in both the mainstream and motoring press and has become a genuine cult classic on the motorsports and collector-car scenes. It's also been used in high school and college-level English classes and is on the recommended reading lists at many libraries and book clubs.

Set in the spring, summer and fall of 1952, it's an entertaining and oft-hilarious coming-of-age tale told by an engaging 19-year-old New Jersey gas-station mechanic named Buddy Palumbo, whom several reviewers have likened to Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye. Buddy's a true working-class hero whose mean-spirited, bullying father is a union shop steward at a big chemical plant in Newark, and he wants Buddy to work there, too. But Buddy hates the place, and really wants to hang around the corner gas station—Finzio's Sinclair in Passaic—and learn how to fix cars from the tough, combative ex-Marine hard-hat diver named Butch and tentatively flirt around with Old Man Finzio's voluptuous, spirited and occasionally acid-tongued niece, Julie Finzio.

Then the station's top customer, a street-wise, several times-divorced, Cadillac-driving scrap-yard owner/wheeler dealer named Big Ed Baumstein (who may or may not be mob-connected) buys himself a new Jaguar XK120 sports car, and Buddy has to learn how to care for it. Which naturally involves runs to the Jaguar dealership in Manhattan run by the slick, stylish, shifty and unscrupulous ex-pat Brit named Colin St. In the process, Buddy and Big Ed are drawn inexorably into the toney, upper-crust, dangerous and occasionally decadent world of open-road sports car racing at places like Bridgehampton, Long Island, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and Watkins Glen, New York.

It's a wild, road-trip adventure through the America of 1952—before the Interstate Highway System, national motel chains and fast-food restaurants—and all the history in the book, from the real characters, events and machinery to the news headlines and social culture of the period, are presented exactly as they were, but as seen through Buddy's amazed, wide-open and oft-blinking eyes. As the reviewer for the Fort Worth Star Telegram put it: “The characters weave in and out of a story that features classism, elitism and racism, that is about triumph and tragedy, and right and wrong...a rich, compelling story that deserves a wide audience.”

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