"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.!