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on April 15, 2009
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.
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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.

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"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.!
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on May 7, 2009
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.
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on May 26, 2009
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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on June 26, 2009
I found myself laughing till it dawned on me that he is right and it is true they are taking our freedoms away from us while we watch. Recomend this book for anyone who still doesn't believe politicians are not destroying the USA.
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on November 5, 2009
I LOVE to drive, which is why I own a BMW (my third) and I am of the age of remembering my first car (a 1949 Ford!) therefore this book brought back memories, envy of his life experiences, and I split a gut at his phenomenal turn of a phrase, the cynical asides and the colorful, detailed descriptions of his various escapades! SUPERB!
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on September 20, 2009
For anyone wondering where American's developed their love for cars, desire to run free, and their obsession with raw horsepower came from, Driving Like Crazy answers all those questions and more. Back when the song "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen did not just tell the story of escaping reality on the highways in the rural Mid-West, but told the story of the everyday lives of kids growing up in the era. If you ever wondered why that song was so well know, its because the song brings the story to the rest of the world creating a story that everyone knows and can relate. The book gives the history of cars in America, not the boring factual information about the creation of the first car, but about how the American people were effected by the changing idea of the car. The book is a comical look into why the speed limit is set to 55 on the highway and also filled with stories of the authors childhood involving cars. For anyone who likes cars this book is perfect for you, it is a comical and accurate look into the evolution of the car culture in America with funny stories along the way. I could not put the book down once I began to read, it's a page turner that will keep you amused the entire time.
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on July 26, 2010
I always enjoy Mr. O's stuff, and this book is no exception. I hooted and cackled all the way through the book, with my Dad looking over his glasses at me and saying "Funny book?". Yeah, funny book, Dad.

You'll laugh, too! P.J. is in his usual fine form on many chapters, extolling the virtues of offroad racing in Mexico, the joys of NASCAR, and just making sly comments about cars and driving. I loved it!
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on September 2, 2011
If you're a fan of PJ O'Rourke, you'll be disappointed as although he's on song and in form, in 2009 this stuff sounds so tired now. His schtick was great back in the '80s (let's face facts, it's hard to top Holidays In Hell) but in the 21st century, I was expecting more.

Frankly, he's as relevant to humor now as Rolling Stone magazine is to rock music.

Also, the theme is not exactly a winner no matter what you think about cars. This is like a book for all those people who loved the 1950s. Who doesn't love muscle cars but an entire book of humor on driving? Seriously?

I much prefer my PJ when he travels the globe and skewers the bleeding hearts. This is far too "American-centric" and I guess it's an example of PJ's retreat away from the trouble spots of the world to the comfort of his car and the insular nature of American travel. If ever a time was needed for PJ to hit the global trail it is this post-9/11 world. Then he'd go out on top.

This book just came across like a rehash or updated version of various articles he wrote where the theme was cars therefore it's a book! Did zip for me.
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