2nd Edition Revised and Expanded:
Coming of Age: Girls, Cars and Rock & Roll
This historically and technically correct, coming-of-age novel is set during the birth of the rock & roll and hot rodding era. There are descriptions of the building of a race car, racing (legal & otherwise), juvenile sexual encounters, high school life, death and many events with which anyone who has ever been an American teenager will identify. The novel has been made required reading in at least one major university's Post World War II history classes.
"... sometimes shocking, sometimes heartwarming, and never, ever boring. My favorite thing about this book is how fully it immerses you in the world of the 1950s. The fact that Paul [the protagonist] is both frustrating and endearing is a testament to Klein's skill."
San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review 8 Aug 2012. RATING: 4 out of 5 stats. See: Full Review
Old Cars Weekly reader, Chuck Klein, has re-released his novel and added additional material to his story of coming of age during the birth of rock n’ roll in the thick of the early post war hot roddings’ peak years.The story has plenty about the cars and the music of an American high schooler during the 1950s that will take readers back to that golden age of postwar prosperity and maybe teach a few whipper-snappers about all that was good (and a little that was naughty) about teenage life in a simple time. Old Cars Weekly News 15 Nov 2012
“Perhaps the best compliment for any novel is that it's worth the time and effort to read...a slice of the past brought to the present...all of the proper setting of the times."
Old Car News 31 Jan 1991
“CIRCA 1957 is a true-to-life story of a young man growing up during the days when all young men were enthralled by cars, racing and rock & roll.
Hot Line News, July 2002
“Klein has done his homework well as he has really captured the feeling of the era."
“Captures the true flavors of adolescence in the late 50's. Kudos to the author."
Car Collector Magazine
“A souped-up, piston-pounding, tire-squealin' honey of an American epic. Grabs you by the gearshift and won't let go for 260 pages."
The Cincinnati Post
“Good walk down memory lane. If you were a teenager in the fifties...you'll definitely see yourself and your friends."
“It's a book that will make you laugh and cry and remember..."
Street Rod Action
SAMPLE TEXT CHAPTER 5:
"Big Bart's D-Gas '49 Ford is coming into the staging area now. Ol' Isky was there when BB christened her on Reading Road a few days ago. That flathead's sporting six-deuces, and a poked and stroked Merc engine, sure 'nuff. Ah... the sound of a flathead is still sweet music even to this die hard Chevy man. Uh, oh. Looks like somethin' broke. I don't see any smoke so it must be in the drive train. Put back in the mud, or put a Chevy in it, sure 'nuff."
SAMPLE TEXT CHAPTER 14:
We pantomimed, holding hands, seeing only each other, hearing only the words and knowing they were meant just for us. I felt my heart racing, I saw her lips quiver... we were like two full race duce-coupes all revved up waiting for the drop of the flag.We pressed tight to each other, kissing and hugging, standing on the outer edges of the dance floor, oblivious to anyone and anything. Anything that is until . . . . We parted with my promise to bring her my black wool jacket. The one with KNIGHTS embroidered on the back in three-inch-high, old English-style letters over a patch of a hoodless roadster.
I caught a ride to Carters' with a kid from my English class. It was just starting to rain. I didn't see any familiar faces so I had to decide if I should wait to see if anybody showed up to give me a ride home, or start thumbing now before the rain got worse. I decided on the latter walking the two blocks to Section Road to catch a ride. I stood out in the cold rain for ten minutes before seeing the first care pass. It passed by me, even though I used my most pathetic look while emphasizing my thumb in an exaggerated way. The third or forth car had a bubble gum machine on top. I tucked my thumb in my first and turned to the sidewalk. I was sure I could be arrested for soliciting a ride or something. The Amberley patrol car stopped next to me and I walked over to the passenger door which opened.
"I was determined to accurately record this time period [for some of us], in novelized form. I did not want to produce another whitewash of the time span such as 'PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED' or 'AMERICAN GRAFFITI.' The latter, though set in 1962, pictured only fifties vehicles and music. It was certainly amusing but it didn't depict the kids of the fifties, the generation of true pioneers of hot rods and rock & roll. By 1960, the time when CIRCA 1957 ends, rock & roll had lost its punch and would remain lackluster until the arrival of the Beatles in 1964. Hot rodding, as the innovators of the 1950s lived it, was also passé by the turn of the decade. No longer was it possible to win a race just because you could do a better tune-up than the other guy. The sixties marked the beginning of the modern and still current, who-ever-has-the-most-money-wins-the-race, era. Teen-age sex, however, hasn't changed . . . .
"Though classified as a novel, the book is autobiographical. It didn't start out that way, it's just that I couldn't make up better stuff than what really happened."