Early on in this eco-travelogue, mechanically-disinclined magazine writer Melville notes, "I simply needed to look at my reflection in the rearview mirror to realize that nearly anyone can operate and maintain a french-fry car." Indeed, it turns out Melville is easily able to convert a diesel-engine Mercedes into a vehicle powered entirely on fryer oil, collected (usually for free) from restaurant grease dumpsters. Joined by his college friend, Iggy, Melville embarks on the first oil-powered cross-country road trip. There isn't really much suspense to the quest, especially once it's clear that they can use oil purchased at the supermarket. Unfortunately, greasy restaurant backlots don't make for great anecdotes, and the duo's banter isn't as funny or insightful as Melville seems to think. What keeps it from reading like a padded magazine article are Melville's side trips: he learns how Fort Knox has converted to geo-thermal heating and cooling, investigates just how eco-friendly Al Gore's mansion really is, and talks to representatives of various "green" U.S. Government agencies. These insights, and the simplicity of his grease-powered transport, propel an otherwise slight read into a thought-, and perhaps action-provoking lesson in alternative fuel.
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*Starred Review* From its punny title, to its unique premise (a man decides to drive from coast to coast in a car powered by used french-fry oil), to its serious message (you, too, can be more environmentally conscious), to its easygoing writing style, this is just a splendid book. The author blames his wife for the genesis of his cross-country quest: it was her idea to buy a diesel vehicle and convert it to run on vegetable oil—Rudolf Diesel demonstrated his original engine in 1900 by running it on peanut oil, part of his plan to encourage drivers to generate their own fuel sources. Anyway, Melville took his wife’s idea and ran with it or, more precisely, drove with it, teaming up with an old college buddy and setting out to drive a converted 1980s Mercedes from Vermont to California. It’s an exciting and occasionally nail-biting adventure, but the author keeps the book from being a simple road trip by delving fairly deeply into the whole ecological, pro-environmental, self-sufficiency theme, taking the reader along on visits to such interesting places as Google headquarters, a wind farm, a renewable energy lab, and a green home. Melville, a freelance journalist who has written his share of travel pieces, is a lively stylist, and the book is both entertaining and educational. --David PittSee all Editorial Reviews
Sorry Greg but you have done far better ..... also you are very p.... whippedPublished 10 months ago by Clev Landers
Easy, quick read. Melville's style and mission are noble. Book will make you question some of your practices and purchases.Published 17 months ago by Teacher in MI
My 20 year old son loves this book. He really enjoys that down to earth way it is written as well as the adventurousness of it.Published on March 14, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Well written with information about the conversion as well as the efforts to find the fuel. The side trips were good too.Published on January 14, 2013 by dug
I had to read this as part of a college class, and it is not bad.
The author weaves research and his agenda into stories about his road trip across the country in a way that... Read more
Vermonter & freelance writer, Greg Melville, tried to limit his carbon footprint by purchasing a second vehicle & running it on waste fuel. Read morePublished on May 23, 2012 by R. A. Frauenglas
Interesting story and I did appreciate the author's balanced thoughts. Being a more liberal East coast writer I thought the book might be a bit slanted but in the chapter where he... Read morePublished on February 5, 2011 by Ernest A. Mizell
this book is very interesting and it's an easy read. i thought i was going to hate reading it, but i actually enjoyed reading for once.Published on September 6, 2009 by Shelley M. Butler