Alex Kudera's Turquoise Truck gives us a down-on-his-luck car salesman working for a predatory dealership, and how the automobiles they pawn off on unsuspecting customers reveal the stark and ugly consequences of our kill-or-be-killed economic culture. It's a peep through the keyhole of America's economic caste system, and how desperate folks can be to climb that ladder, too often selling their souls as they do. Mendicant Bookworks is proud to release this subtle and subversive tale about the tiny, daily wars waged on the front lines of the American dream.
From the author:
Selling cars got me out of my mother's apartment and turned me into a self-supporting adult. I was 25 years old and had written a lot of fiction since finishing college but hadn't gotten work beyond busboy and bookstore clerk. I could afford to pay my student loan, but that was about it. It's twenty years later, but I'm still grateful for this sales "opportunity" even if it was completely unexpected, maybe the last thing in the world I thought I'd be doing to earn my own way in this life. Today, I'd say that "Turquoise Truck" is about coming to terms with what one has to do to survive in capitalist America, and about how ugly it can feel when earning daily bread requires getting people to pay top dollar for merchandise they may not be able to afford. It's something I still wrestle with. Quite obviously a commission-based car salesperson cannot tell the customers not to buy cars but to instead safely invest their money in a house or low-fee index mutual fund. Now that I teach college classes, I'm removed from the front lines of capitalist America although I still find myself apprehensive about the economics of the consumer transaction. There are days on college campuses when the corporate university feels like a shadier place than the car lot. But again, you can't tell out-of-state students to go back home, live with their parents, and do a couple years at the local community college before transferring to a school where they can pay in-state tuition. In fact, as in "Turquoise Truck," over the years, I've learned that people don't like being told what to do, and they respond positively when we show agreement or enthusiasm with choices they have made. For example, the narrator of the story sees how sad the customer gets when he thinks the toy will be taken away. So that is the story and that is often the story in America: sometimes the moral or ethical communications do not lead to happiness, and we feel obliged to "give the people what they want."
In addition to delivering automobiles, Alex Kudera has sold books, waited tables, taught school, tutored English, walked dogs, washed dishes, and leased apartments. Fight For Your Long Day (Atticus Books), his first novel, was drafted in a walk-in closet during a summer in Seoul, South Korea and consequently won the 2011 IPPY Gold Medal for Best Fiction from the Mid-Atlantic Region. Other publications include Frade Killed Ellen (Dutch Kills Press) and Over Fifty Billion Kafkas Served (Orizont Literar Contemporan). His forthcoming books include Auggie's Revenge, a comic crime novel from Beating Windward Press, and a teaching edition of Fight for Your Long Day is to be published in fall 2016. Alex currently teaches literature and writing at Clemson University in South Carolina.
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About the Author
Alex Kudera has survived fifteen years of teaching overloads but in some circles is better known for his mysterious injuries. He has bussed dishes and tutored English in two countries, and Fight for Your Long Day, his first novel, was drafted in a walk-in closet during a summer in Seoul, South Korea. A lifelong Philadelphian until fall 2007, Alex currently teaches literature and writing at Clemson University in South Carolina.