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Driving Like Crazy: Thirty Years of Vehicular Hellbending, Celebrating America the Way It's Supposed to Be--With an Oil Well in Every Backyard, a ... of the Federal Reserve Mowing Our Lawn [Hardcover]

P J O'Rourke
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 May 2009
Spanning 30 years, this collection chronicles famed humorist and gearhead P.J. O'Rourke's love affair with the automobile from mid-20th century to now, from heyday to sickbay.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press (21 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802118836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802118837
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,480,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"With the car industry under attack, both socially and economically, it is pleasing to read O'Rourke's trenchant analysis of all the good things the automobile has brought to American society, even as his tongue is firmly planted in cheek . . . A great book for summer reading; thumbing through it elicits a laugh at almost any point." --Library Journal
"Libertarian satirist P.J. O'Rourke has built a bestselling career by celebrating his own politically incorrect intemperance. So it's only fitting that he's devoted some of his best writing to that gaudy metaphor for excess, the gas-guzzling muscle car . . . The collapse of the auto industry makes the book poignantly timely." --SmartMoney
"Car buff or not, all dads can enjoy satirist P.J. O'Rourke's ode to the American automobile." --The Daily Beast
"[A] treat of a book . . . As with almost all of O'Rourke's work, it's easy reading, and he's just as good, if not better, at cracking wise about cars and driving as he is about liberal politics." --Dallas Morning News
"Readers looking for insights and laughs will not be disappointed by Driving Like Crazy . . . [it] is a ride worth taking, even for readers who don't know an oil pan from a frying pan." --Washington Times
"Driving Like Crazy isn't just a bound collection of greatest hits. P.J. has written new lead-ins to each story that offer fresh meat even for those who think they've read it all before . . . This book is a must-read." --Automobile Magazine
"Reading O'Rourke can be like being dragged over a rocky field by a runaway ox on crystal meth--a wild and bumpy ride. His is a cartoonish vision of life, unapologetically if not joyously puerile, with enough hyperbolic volatility pumped into every paragraph to explode the Hindenburg all over again . . . For the automotive Walter Mittys of the world, who dream of an outlaw life on the road and identify more with the peace-disturbers than the peacemakers, it's definitely something,

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
"When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;
when I became a man, I did away with childish things." -- 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NAS)

Beware of this book if you don't realize that there's a very large tongue in P.J. O'Rourke's cheek as he recounts these tales of wild youth, middle-aged fantasies, and crazy trips. You'll think that this book is all about encouraging irresponsible behavior. Actually, the book is about the nutty schemes that cars and motorcycles inspire in us, but rarely, if ever, do. Just in case you miss that point, he writes a new essay "How to Drive Fast When the Drugs Are Mostly Lipitor, the Wing-Wang Needs More Squeezing Than It Used to Before It Gets the Idea, and Spilling Your Drink Is No Problem If You Keep the Sippy Cups from When Your Kids Were Toddlers and Leave the Baby Seat in the Back Seat so that When You Get Pulled Over You Look Like a Perfectly Innocent Grandparent" that comments on his semi-famous comic paean to irresponsibility "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink."

But if you are still in touch with the inner fantasies you once had involving tires, gear boxes, big engines, and throbbing exhausts, you'll alternate between feeling excited and laughing out loud. As a reporter, Mr. O'Rourke had a big advantage over the rest of the dreamers: He could occasionally talk someone else into giving him a free pass into car and motorcycle fantasy lands, trips, races, and experiences.

A lot of people will focus on the first two essays. I found them of interest mostly to explain the anthology's purpose, which is to have some fun with car fantasies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By AK TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Let me start with a disclaimer - if you are somewhat sensitive about irresponsible behaviour and prone to taking things too literally, you will be well advised to skip the first chapter (the National Lampoon piece promoting the virtues of intoxicating dribing while copulating), at least till you have read the rest of the book. It is so massively tongue in cheek that in might have some readers throw the book away in disgust and thereby miss some really fine, engaging, funny and quite superbly observed travel writing, with a motorized mode of transportation being the common theme.

The decades of O'Rourke's motoring journalism experience (from which several of the pieces were drawn) seem to have been a very fruitful ground for some good adventure - as he stated expense accounts used to be more lavish, and can press departments I assume more gullible and forgiving. And while you might find equal doses of (perhaps even more fascinating) automotive adventure in Llewellyn's The Road to Muckle Flugga: Great Drives in Five Continents, O'Rourke really shines in bringing them to light and making the book a page turning read, where many of Llewellyn's adventures, in the politically correct way they are described, fall a bit flat.

Compared to someone like Jeremy Clarkson, PJ O'Rourke comes across as better read, occasionally wilder but generally more competent about the primary topic (cars) and will be a better read in my eyes.

While somewhat hard pressed to find a favourite chapter, the three trips to Baja California do stand out for me, as does the one on Rent a Wreck. And again, even if you are not of a Republican leaning, you are likely to find O'Rourke very funny, as long as you do not take everything written literally.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Skip this one 30 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My goodness, this is a boring book. It's just a load of tired articles from years ago when oh-my-goodness-I-am-drinking-and-driving passed for quality writing and has now been regurgitated and packaged as a book because anything with PJ's name on it will sell. Save your money. Skip this one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a return to Quintessential PJ O'Rourke 15 April 2009
By Jennifer G. Ellis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Having read all of the author's previous books (I think), I am thrilled to find he's back in his element with DRIVING LIKE CRAZY. This book I could not put down, and with every page turn found myself either laughing out loud or muttering some form of "YESSSS !."

I haven't had this much fun since reaing his "ALL THE TROUBLE IN THE WORLD".

P.J. O'Rourke is a master of metaphore and his writing is a sheer pleasure to read. He's what makes me feel good about this country.
I can't wait until he writes his next one. I can't imagine that anyone who has the ability to be intellectually honest cannot relate to most of what he says. It's class-A entertainment.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be careful where you read this - don't wake the sleeping 1 Jun 2009
By Jerry Saperstein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you share a bed with someone, do not bring this book into that bed when your bed mate is sleeping - otherwise you will either wake them with your laughing or choke yourself trying to stifle your laughter.

This is P. J O'Rourke at his funniest. These are reprints, for the most part, of articles O'Rourke wrote for various automotive columns - and every one is simply hilarious.

O'Rourke's adventures are a mixed bag. A drive from Florida to California in a 1956 Buick Special four-door turns into a series of unlikely events that are best read with nothing in your mouth - lest said contents be propelled out of your mouth in a burst of laughter as you come upon the next episode in an insane journey. O'Rourke gets up close and personal with NASCAR, which is not only funny, but interesting. I've never been a NASCAR fan, but O'Rourke has convinced me to at least try watching cars go in a circle at least once. A bunch of middle-aged car enthusiasts ride classic motorcycles across Michigan and a couple of other states. The title merely hints at the contents: "The Rolling Organ Donors Motorcycle Club".

Next is an account of the Baja 1000 road race. Only a masochist with a well honed sense of humor could turn this rolling disaster into something funny. But O'Rourke does - and convinces the reader that sane people do not take part in this race. The amount of effort that goes into preparing machines for this race is astounding - as is the number of things that can go wrong. The backup crew for this race team included two airplanes.

All of the eighteen stories are funny and you don't have to be a car lover to enjoy them, but it helps. One of the funniest stories is about O'Rourke, his wife and their three children taking a trip in a station wagon.

The cover photo of a young man sprawled across the hood of a 60s Mustang is explained in the book - but I'ml not going to give it away here.

All in all, just plain O'Rourkeian fun. Very little in the way of politics - and a lot about cars, motorcycles and trips gone wrong.

Jerry
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun 7 May 2009
By Christopher C. Cole - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
P.J. O'Rourke is a great writer on many things, and this compilation of driving stories is one of his great efforts, even if you already read some of these before. He rivals the best of Hunter Thompson. Up to date and a great read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outrageous Humor Aimed at Creating a Fictional "On the Road" through Articles with Social Commentary 3 Aug 2009
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;
when I became a man, I did away with childish things." -- 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NAS)

Beware of this book if you don't realize that there's a very large tongue in P.J. O'Rourke's cheek as he recounts these tales of wild youth, middle-aged fantasies, and crazy trips. You'll think that this book is all about encouraging irresponsible behavior. Actually, the book is about the nutty schemes that cars and motorcycles inspire in us, but rarely, if ever, do. Just in case you miss that point, he writes a new essay "How to Drive Fast When the Drugs Are Mostly Lipitor, the Wing-Wang Needs More Squeezing Than It Used to Before It Gets the Idea, and Spilling Your Drink Is No Problem If You Keep the Sippy Cups from When Your Kids Were Toddlers and Leave the Baby Seat in the Back Seat so that When You Get Pulled Over You Look Like a Perfectly Innocent Grandparent" that comments on his semi-famous comic paean to irresponsibility "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink."

But if you are still in touch with the inner fantasies you once had involving tires, gear boxes, big engines, and throbbing exhausts, you'll alternate between feeling excited and laughing out loud. As a reporter, Mr. O'Rourke had a big advantage over the rest of the dreamers: He could occasionally talk someone else into giving him a free pass into car and motorcycle fantasy lands, trips, races, and experiences.

A lot of people will focus on the first two essays. I found them of interest mostly to explain the anthology's purpose, which is to have some fun with car fantasies. Where the rubber began to meet the road (metaphorically) for me was in the descriptions of the three Baja California trips he took. Those were worth the price of admission and then some. I also enjoyed the trip across India very much.

If you don't know old cars, some of the automotive references will be baffling. Don't let that bother you. It's not important. If you do know old cars, those details will bring back many memories of mysterious non-starting cars and weird situations (I still remember having a car that wouldn't go into reverse and having to call for help from the house of a man in whose front yard the car rested).

If you are a Kerouac fan, the obvious plays on that wonderful book will give you a literary perspective on these articles that will keep you thinking for days.

If you don't like broad humor aimed at those who are concerned about the environment, you might not enjoy this book.

Nice wheels, P.J.!
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic P.J. 26 May 2009
By RJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It was nice to have PJ kick back and write another "fun" book rather than some of the hardcore much-less-fun politcal satire that he's been running hard at lately. He needed a good bounce back from the "Wealth of Nations" clunker that, while he gave it a hell of a go...was a bit dead on arrival. Not Driving Like Crazy. PJ is clearly a car guy and he writes and experiences everything that we all want to try in our own cars except we don't have an expense account and a dealer supplied vehicle to destroy without guilt or fear of lawsuit... PJ's years as a contributor to Car and Driver and Rolling Stone, were, in my opinion,
some of his best work. For this read, PJ puts down his grumpy-old-man- who's-pissed-at-the-democrats-for-everything pen, and breaks out his memoirs of American Motoring. All fun and damned hilarious in places. Sometimes more of a travelog rather than a car review. With PJ, its a constant running commentary and its all fun and fact based (sort of) with his trademark satire thrown in for proper seasoning. I have everyone of PJ's books and this book and the others will stay on the shelf for the re-read later. Thanks PJ for taking a break on political satire and writing somthing thats fun and won't prompt me to up my medications. It was a fun book, and we all need a good laugh at the moment. How about a "Holidays in Hell" II??
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