Driving Like Crazy: Thirty Years of Vehicular Hell-bending, Celebrating America the Way It’s Supposed to Be—with an Oil Well in Every Backyard, a Cadillac Escalade in Every Carport, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Mowing Our Lawn

P. J. O'Rourke, Author Atlantic Monthly $24 (258p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1883-7

Humorist O’Rourke shifts gears, covering and combining past pieces on cars (for Automobile , Car and Driver , Esquire and Forbes ) with new material to set this auto anthology in motion. Much has been reworked “because the writing—how to put this gently to myself—sucked.” Starting with car journalism language (“Drop the bottle and grab the throttle”), he steers the reader toward California cars: “Many automobiles were purchased to attract members of L.A.’s eight or ten opposite sexes.” He writes about a variety of vehicles, from off-road racers to Philippine jeepneys (“a Willys cut in half and lengthened”). Accelerating the humor, he updates his 1979 account of a 700-mile weekend trip through Michigan and Indiana: “I can imagine what the farm girls and small town teen angels who looked so longingly at the Harley-Davidson FXE-80 Super Glide would have thought if I had been riding a Segway: 'dork.’ ” His early essay “How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink” is followed by wild road trips, NASCAR nights and selecting “a new grocery hauler, parent trap, Keds sled, family bus.” Never in neutral, O’Rourke offers laughter on wheels. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/06/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
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