The God of Driving

The God of Driving: How I Overcame Fear and Put Myself in the Driver's Seat With the Help of a Good and Mysterious Man

AUTHOR: Amy Fine Collins
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
FORMAT: Hardcover, 352 pages
PRICE: $23.00
AVAILABLE: Sept. 8, 2004

For many of us, driving is a natural, expected, and essential part of every day. Cars can be not only a means of getting somewhere but also a way to escape the daily grind. In the relaxing cocoon of leather and wood inside a fine automobile, the world outside stops--nothing else matters. But Amy Fine Collins, a correspondent for Vanity Fair, was one of many Americans with a driving phobia. Her father had nearly died in three car accidents, and two of her grandparents were killed at the hands of horsepower. Besides, do cars really make sense when you live in Manhattan?

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A turn-of-the-century resolution finally pushes Collins to earn her New York driver's license, but she ends up receiving more than a simple piece of plastic. Her instructor, a dark, mysterious Turk named Attila, quickly proves to be more of a psychiatrist than a simple driving teacher; he has a superhuman ability to get into the heads of his students, find their fears, and extract them. Collins discovers that good driving technique can be translated into important life lessons. Becoming a relaxed, graceful driver calms the rest of her life.

With Attila at her side, Collins falls deeper and deeper into automotive addiction. She trades Beene for Bentley and Manolo for Mercedes. "Driving a stick shift," she proclaims, "was one of the greatest joys on this earth. There was something immensely satisfying about the harmony between flesh and machine-no messy emotions in the way, I suppose, as there inevitably were when two bodies met." She begins to cut short her attendance at posh parties in order to attend luxury-sedan debuts and driving schools, explore the East Coast in Vipers and AMG Benzes, and rent Harleys and Ducatis for weekend excitement. She even travels across the Atlantic for a ride in the ultra-luxurious cabin of a Maybach 62. The climax of the book comes when Collins ventures to a Pennsylvania road that had haunted her in nightmares since childhood and finally buries her phobia with one swift motion of her right foot, top down in a Bentley Azure convertible.

Collins's story is intriguing. Her writing is sexy, her style smooth. Car enthusiasts will relate to Attila's daring and confidence but, at the same time, can reminisce through Amy's growing automotive passion; non-enthusiasts will love her entertaining passenger-seat observations and philosophical realizations. The style community and the automotive world mesh with special beauty through the warm friendship of an unlikely duo, while the gifts of life lessons during the ride make the story more captivating. This is a must read for anyone in search of a fresh, amusing look into the world of driving.

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