Henry Gregor Felsen Learned T. Bulman - Essay

Learned T. Bulman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The automobile is a prestige symbol to the American teenager. A symbol that has coaches gnashing their teeth …, parents worried silly …, and law officers fearing who will next ride the city hearse. Henry Felsen, whose "Hot Rod" was the forerunner of this genre of book, and whose "Street Rod" should have helped to cure this national illness, has probably won the crown once and for all with this truly frightening book ["Crash Club"]. It should be required reading in every freshman classroom. It tries to explain what makes a boy drag, investigating the emotional and mental strains that make them rebel at being called chicken….

Although this book certainly deserves an award, the greatest reward we could wish for Mr. Felsen would be that "Crash Club" would be read by all concerned.

Learned T. Bulman, "Their Weapons Are Cars," in The New York Times Book Review, Part II (© 1958 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 16, 1958, p. 54.

[Woody, in Boy Gets Car,] is determined to have a car—a grown-up's tinker toy—even if it doesn't run. Woody gets his car and in his ultimate ability to give it up, reaches a new level of maturity. There are several sub plots here—a blundering courtship, a shocking experience with a neurotic class mate—but in each of these, Woody's essential integrity leads him to a satisfactory decision. Like Henry Felsen's other heroes, Woody is a creature of many dimensions. His agonizing uncertainty, his euphoric self-assurance are the very stuff that big boys are made of and they are portrayed here with a warmth and understanding unusual in teen-age novels. Woody is the contemporary cousin of Penrod and Huck Finn.

"Fiction: 'Boy Gets Car'," in Virginia Kirkus' Service, Vol. XXVIII, No. 15, August 1, 1960, p. 631.