Petroleum Man takes Swiftean malice and delight in exposing the vanity and frailty of some of the most popularly held prejudices of our times. Stanley Crawford’s first novel since the ingenious and uproarious Some Instructions, Petroleum Man is a hilariously scathing satire that takes on both sides of some of the raging debates of our times between democrats and republicans, haves and have-nots, trickle-down conservatives and bleeding-heart liberals, environmentalists and industrialists. Bewildered by the odious liberal democrat tendencies of his son-in-law Chip, Leon Tuggs, self-made arch-capitalist billionaire, inventor of the ubiquitous and environmentally hazardous Thingie , and author of the influential General Theory of Industrial Sex decides to rescue his grandchildren from a life of guilt, indecision, and existential anxiety, by educating them in the way the world actually works and telling them, for their own good, the things no teacher or parent in our politically correct and morally relative world could ever venture to say. These life lessons to his grandchildren are accompanied by gifts: cast-iron replicas of the cars that he has owned.
Scotty’s family owns a lodge near their silver mine in the Colorado Rockies. Summers at the lodge are idyllic for Scotty and his cousin Mickey. The grown-ups are dealing with the complications of business and adult dysfunction, but the boys are more interested in the complications of puberty, especially when Rosalind, the teenage daughter of family friends, is on hand. To read this quiet, rich evocation of adolescent watchfulness is to experience what it is like to be fourteen years old, waiting for something to happen, aware of everything but oblivious to as much of it as possible. Readers will be reminded of such modern masters as William Maxwell and John Updike.