Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Patron Saint of Used Cars and Second Chances by Mark Millhone (a review)

The Patron Saint of Used Cars and Second Chances: A Memoir
3.5 out of 5: In this memoir, Mark Millhone confronts the difficulties of marriage and parenting with humor and grace. Millhone frames his story around a cross-country trip he takes with his father to drive a new-ish BMW from Dallas back to New York City. The trip gives Millhone a chance to come to terms with his troubled childhood, including his mentally-ill mother and mostly absent father, as he (quite literally) travels closer to his family. Mixed into the road trip narrative are flashbacks to the year the Millhone family belonged to the "tragedy-of-the-month club."

As a Men's Health columnist and a screenwriting professor, Millhone has plenty of writing experience, and his casual comfort with words is readily apparent. Consider, for example, his description of "the way Texans talk":

They can make conversation out of thin air, about nothing at all. It's conversation in its purest form really: a warm background of syllables, a nice little area rug of consonance to furnish the common space you're sharing with an acquaintance who just became your new best friend.
Occasionally, the book swerves too close to the tedium of complaint, but, in general, Millhone’s sharp and often humorous writing sets this memoir apart from the countless others covering the same ground.


bermudaonion said...

I love the title and I love memoirs, so I might have to try this one.

Zibilee said...

I like the sound of this book. I will have to see if I can grab a copy. Thanks!