A Better Life Behind the Wheel
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An introspective collection of essays focuses on the joys found in automobiles, old and new.

Contemporary Americans are “chronically overstressed, overworked,” and tired. For Webster, a vintage-car enthusiast and former editor-in-chief of Road & Track, “there’s never been a better time to go for a drive” in a “four-wheeled escape pod.” With contributions from over a dozen renowned auto enthusiasts from around the nation, this volume offers readers a collection of essays and vignettes that reflect debut editor Webster’s belief that cars are more than functional assortments of metal important only to get from place to place. The book’s essays explore such topics as the agony and thrills of finding the perfect vintage vehicle, the mentally restorative value of car repair, and the simple pleasures found in driving both for excitement and relaxation. Vignettes by some of the nation’s leading automobile columnists, such as Rob Siegel, provide musings on topics like “The Joy of Problem Solving” and the importance of learning from past mistakes. The volume concludes with interviews with Jay Leno, Mario Andretti, and others who discuss what their perfect “last drive” on Earth would look like. Brett Berk’s essay makes the case that worthy automobiles should be admired on the same level as majestic paintings or Frank Lloyd Wright homes, as modern forms of art that transcend mere function in their ability to evoke wonder and awe. Indeed, the book is adorned with spectacular shots by various photographers that reflect the beauty, delight, and restorative peace found in cars. Even nonenthusiasts will find much to value in this collection, from its gorgeous photos to its impassioned prose that skillfully blends elegance and approachability. Constantly evolving in mechanics and design, in frequent need of maintenance and repair, and the products of multiple generations of failures and breakthroughs, cars are “the perfect embodiment of what makes us human,” according to Webster. In many ways, this is not just a book about cars—it also examines the importance of seemingly pointless hobbies that bring humans happiness, connections beyond themselves, and fulfillment.

An emotionally powerful love letter to cars and the human spirit.

Pub Date: July 23rd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7603-6341-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Motorbooks
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2019