Driving Like Crazy by P.J. O’Rourke

My bar-none favorite author records vehicular adventures – from racing in the creepy Baja California desert to steering a rusted out Soviet army truck.

Book cover: Driving Like Crazy by P.J. O’Rourke
Book cover: Driving Like Crazy by P.J. O’Rourke

I can say three things with absolute certainty:

  1. I love the writings of P.J. O’Rourke — I have read every one of his books.
  2. I know next-to-nothing about cars.
  3. This is the longest subtitle of any book I have ever read:

Thirty Years of Vehicular Hellbending, Celebrating America the Way It’s Supposed to Be — With an Oil Well in Every Backyard, a Cadillac Escalade in Every Carport, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank Mowing Our Lawn 

So because of #1 – and either because or in spite of #2 – I adored this collection of stories. P.J. has a way of taking the mundane and absurd and turning it all into laugh-out-loud writing tinged variously with sarcasm, irony, snarkiness, libertarianism, and occasional dollops of nostalgia.

PJ-then and now
P.J. O’Rourke c. 1970 (left) and 2016 (right)

This book touches upon almost any vehicular experience you can imagine. Topics include road racing in the eerie Baja California desert, steering a rusting hulk of a Soviet army truck, and grieving the decline of the Detroit muscle car.

P.J. has worn many hats as a writer over the years — my personal favorite is the period he called himself investigative humorist” for Rolling Stone magazine. And who can argue with the following sentiment expressed in this book?

“There’s a lot of debate about what kind of car handles best. Some say a front-engined car; some say a rear-engined car. I say a rented car. Nothing handles better than a rented car. You can go faster, turn corners sharper, and put the transmission into reverse while going forward at a higher rate of speed in a rented car than in any other kind.” [⇒ Excerpt]