It's what you have been wondering for years--just how many Buddhist monks CAN you fit into a 1970 ruby-red Buick Electra 225 convertible? It's 1990 and just another typical summer day in Mapletown, Indiana until Uncle Phat, The Reptile (or Uncle Mike, as he used to be called), wanders into the garage and gives his puberty-stricken 15 year old nephew, Galen Calcoun, only about an hour to pack. The four of them, a squinting Uncle Phat, his beloved Ruby--a 1970 ruby red white convertible topped Buick Electra 225, Galen, and "the three books about Buddhism" that take their place in the middle of the front seat, are headed to Houston, Texas to "look at an engine" for Ruby. They leave a note for the family and with ZZ Top blaring, take to the road. Both are escaping not only the monotony of their town but also the tyranny of the "cousins" who by sheer numbers alone, wield chaos-based control over the entire clan, the brunt of which is borne by Uncle Phat though Galen is tiring of it too, even if he doesn't know it--yet. "Intellectuals in a sea of morons" is how Galen views it ten years later as narrator, recounting their trip that includes lessons in French history from Vincennes (Indiana) and Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Of course they have to make a stop at Mark Twain National Forest. After a foray in a casino bar on a boat in Shreveport, LA, they have a run-in with a bunch of gun-totin' nature lovers on ATV's. Their "irresponsible behavior" is buffered by the people they meet along the way that despite their antics, see the better side, invite them in, befriend them. The point of the trip was what again? Oh yea, getting to Houston to look at that engine for Ruby except...Starting with the first lie, the trip is predicated on more lies and when it ends, only one of them returns home to Indiana. Wow is now.
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Phat('s) Chance for Buddha in Houston: (Or How I Spent My Summer Vacation) based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Phat’s Chance is a quick summer read packed with adventure, friendship and growing up. It is a story within a story. Newly minted Master of Physics, Galen Calcoun, is about to embark on a new chapter. He revisits some of his best, but also most troubling, memories, about his Uncle Phat’s disappearance a few years earlier. The summer he turns 16, his Uncle Mike, aka Phat, invites him on a road trip spanning Ohio to Texas, from which only Galen returns. The trip affects everything that happens afterwards. As a flashback, the story is more than just summer antics; it is about Galen’s and his uncle’s parallel transformations. Described in straightforward and informal prose befitting a teenage author, Galen and his uncle are peas in a pod: nerdy, book-loving, not the most attractive, and at the mercy of a large and gregarious family. They seek each other out against teasing cousins and practically-minded adults. On their own together, they make mistakes only they can fix, learning what it takes to stand up for themselves and go after their dreams, however fanciful. Phat’s fancy sports car, Ruby, seems incongruous with his dumpy appearance, but his mysterious, quirky, albeit noble actions come to fit the car’s “cool” status. After tornadoes, drunken rages in an stranger’s barn and accidents with another stranger’s fence, Galen and Uncle Phat manage to endear themselves to folks they meet across middle America. Their trip is two weeks of non-stop movement worth a lifetime of unpacking. The book is a comic coming of age story lined with history, great literature, and a tender portrait of familial love.
Reviewed by Jessyca Garcia for Readers' Favorite I thought Virginia Arthur’s Phat('s) Chance for Buddha in Houston was an interesting story. Fifteen-year-old Galen Calcou takes a spur of the moment road trip with his Uncle Mike (Phat). They are driving from Indiana to Texas in Uncle Mike’s 1970 red convertible named Ruby to buy an engine. Along the way they rely on the kindness of strangers and learn about themselves and each other. I thought Phat('s) Chance for Buddha in Houston was going to end and leave me with a bunch of question. In the end, Arthur only left me with one question. That question is what happened between Uncle Mike and Galen’s father? This story takes place in 1990 but everything that happens in it makes me think it is more in the '50s. The kindness of strangers was really amazing in this book. If it were not for these strangers then I cannot see Galen and Uncle Mike staying on the road trip for as long as they did. I do not think that people would be so quick to help a stranger nowadays. The character of Uncle Phat was weird but in a good way. He actually reminded me of a close family friend, since they have some similar characteristics. Galen is a confused teenager. He knows he does not fit in with his family but he is bound to them by blood. I think a lot of people can relate to Galen because of this. I thought it was hilarious when Uncle Mike embarrassed Galen in the bar. Only family can embarrass you like that.