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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 ... of the Federal Reserve Mowing Our Lawn Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 9, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 œbecause the writing—how to put this gently to myself—sucked. Starting with car journalism language (œDrop the bottle and grab the throttle), he steers the reader toward California cars: œMany 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 (œa Willys cut in half and lengthened). Accelerating the humor, he updates his 1979 account of a 700-mile weekend trip through Michigan and Indiana: œI 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 œHow 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 œa new grocery hauler, parent trap, Keds sled, family bus. Never in neutral, O'Rourke offers laughter on wheels. (June)
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From Booklist

Political satirist O’Rourke grew up in Ohio in a family that owned a car dealership. That’s where and when he first learned to love American cars and appreciate their deep connection to the culture. In this tantalizing book, O’Rourke veers back and forth between essays he wrote for several magazines, including Car and Driver and Esquire, from his youth and more recently. The result is an insightful look not just at the American love affair with cars, but also at one man’s changing outlook on life, all of it fast-paced and over the top. Looking back from the safety and soundness of middle age, O’Rourke takes his younger self to task for excessive skid-marking and sexual escapades. But the older version of O’Rourke is as fun-loving as the younger, with an unabashed appreciation of the bone-rattling fun of speed. His essays recall adventures at the Baja 1000 and NASCAR, with rich detail of assorted characters and their cars and motorcycles. Notwithstanding long-time praise of European and Japanese design, he offers full-throated defense of American car design for American sensibilities and living conditions. Even readers who know nothing about cars and motorcycles will appreciate the joy and hilarity of this book. --Vanessa Bush

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802118836
  • ASIN: B00342VG4K
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,436,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

P. J. O'Rourke was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, and attended Miami University and Johns Hopkins. He began writing funny things in 1960s "underground" newspapers, became editor-in-chief of National Lampoon, then spent 20 years reporting for Rolling Stone and The Atlantic Monthly as the world's only trouble-spot humorist, going to wars, riots, rebellions, and other "Holidays in Hell" in more than 40 countries. He's written 16 books on subjects as diverse as politics and cars and etiquette and economics. His book about Washington, Parliament of Whores, and his book about international conflict and crisis, Give War a Chance, both reached #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. He is a contributing editor at The Weekly Standard, H. L. Mencken fellow at the Cato Institute, a member of the editorial board of World Affairs and a regular panelist on NPR's Wait... Wait... Don't Tell Me. He lives with his family in rural New England, as far away from the things he writes about as he can get.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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.
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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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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.
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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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