Family Car Trouble is Gus Powell’s third monograph and is an intimate narrative of his own family. The main characters are his wife, their two daughters (growing as the pages proceed) and his infirm father. A personal story in which a Volvo station wagon called Jimmy, constantly breaking down, makes regular inroads.
The book is presented in the guise of a novel, with recommendations for reading and the biography of the author on the back cover. It is cared for in every detail: on the dust jacket we find a receipt from the mechanic, while the cover reproduces the interior of the car. The special edition comes with the imprint of Jimmy’s (real!) old tires, and the promotional video is a remake of an old Japanese Volvo commercial.
From the very first pages, it is clear that Family Car Trouble is not a happy ending kind of book: instead, death is placed in a context of everyday family life that has its bright and simple moments.
How many emotional nuances exist in the family microcosm? Gus Powell shows them all honestly, enlightened by the irruption of Jimmy – broken down ., narrative red thread and spokesman of Powell’s identity as a street photographer, as well as the author’s alter ego and his obstinacy to keep it alive by constantly repairing it.
He never appears in the book (he can only be glimpsed in a photograph, hugging his daughter), but he is always present, the narrating voice of life as it happens. The love and care for one of the family members and for the car become a visceral journey into dynamics in which we all recognize ourselves, but which we are not always able to look at gently.
In the author’s words: We struggle with the things we can control and the things we cannot in any way govern… in the end, as they say, life goes on.