Driving Like Crazy Review
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P. J. O’Rourke has been writing about driving cars for the last thirty years—at least when he wasn’t writing political pieces for the likes of The Atlantic Monthly or The American Spectator or working on one of at least a dozen novels. His latest full-length tome, Driving Like Crazy, is a collection of some his best automobile writing—gracefully revisited, of course, by the author, as he updates them with current commentary and reflections on what he was really doing at the time.

He captures a couple of seminal truths about the American car in this book. For instance, he bemoans the lack of any testicular fortitude in American automobile executives, both in the 1970s and now. O’Rourke makes an excellent case for the decline of individual rights being linked to too much Congressional regulation of the automotive industry. In the early pages of his book, he also identifies the best car anyone can ever drive: a rented one. In his words, “you can take a rented car anywhere. True, you can’t always get it back—but that’s not your problem, is it?” And who among us hasn’t longed to drive a rental like we stole it?

  
 
With a first chapter titled “How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink,” you might think that this is book filled with vulgarity and sex. Not true at all. O’Rourke only uses vulgarity and sex to make his point about the former greatness of the American car. And, besides, that article was written in 1979—and things were different then. John Wayne was still alive. It was still manly to drive too fast. And smoking didn’t give you lung cancer; it made you cool.

Intermingled with all the car talk and the tales from road races across the Mexican Peninsula is a crafty undertone of Libertarian politics. If you’ve read O’Rourke’s magazine articles, you know that he disdains both political parties. Here, with all the car talk, is a persuasive case that the demise of the American car is merely a reflection of national identity. From a feisty Model T, which anyone with a job could own, to the muscle cars of the ‘60s and ‘70s, our cars were a symbol of our progress and the objects of our passions. Now the Prius is a symbol of a society that’s given up on adventure for the security of somebody else making all the hard choices.

O’Rourke convinced me. It’s time again to drive too fast on drugs, with a hot chick in the passenger seat, while you try not to spill your drink.

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