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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Patron Saint of Used Cars and Second Chances...Review

About the book:
In the course of one nine-month period, filmmaker Mark Millhone’s youngest son nearly died from birth complications, his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, his mother had a heart attack and passed away, a freak illness claimed the life of one of his friends, and his career imploded. As a result of his membership in what he calls the “tragedy-of-the-month club,” his marriage also began to fray. Millhone responded to the chaos as many men might: Late one night, he logged on to eBay and bid on a vintage BMW—his fantasy car, but not exactly what the doctor ordered when it came to his family’s finances. As if sharing the news that he'd won the auction with his already-peeved wife weren't bad enough, it turned out that he had to travel from New York to Texas to collect the car. His estranged dad joined him, and together they embarked upon a dysfunctional road trip—a comedy of errors that would lend Millhone the perspective he needed to save his marriage and to understand what was really important in his life: his family. Acerbic and hilarious but with heart, this memoir will appeal to readers of Chuck Klosterman, David Sedaris, and Nick Hornby, as well as readers of Millhone’s “Guy Wisdom” column in Men’s Health. His male perspective on a troubled marriage, raising children, coping with loss, and rejuvenating a relationship with a parent will appeal equally to both sexes.

I usually enjoy true-life memoirs, and this certainly falls into the true-life category. It's an easy read and, for the most part, an interesting one. Mark Millhone writes about what he calls his "year from hell" and does so honestly. As one crisis after another affects his family, he finds himself and his wife pulling apart from each other. Once he purchases his dream car, he thinks it will be something that brings his family back together again, because a past BMW purchase was such a good experience for them. His wife is understandably not very happy about it.

The book doesn't follow Mark's life experiences in order. But, as he recounts his drive from Texas to New York, he recalls conversations he had in the car with his father, and vignettes from his past that explain his thought processes and help him gain some much-needed perspective. We learn that his family was dysfunctional, but whose wasn't to some extent? Every family has their issues, even the perfect, happy ones. We also parent as we were parented unless we make a conscious effort to change. Mark was able to recognize his father in himself and realize the kind of husband and father he didn't want to be.

Overall, an honest, yet humorous and thoughtful read. The blurb says the book would appeal to both sexes, and while it was interesting, I think it would be more appealing to men. I also could have done without the moderate profanity, although I wouldn't call it gratuitous.

You can find additional reviews at Book, Line & Sinker, A High & Hidden Place, and The Book Lady's Blog.

Thanks to Lisa at TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Mark Millhone here. You can purchase the book here.

Read 8/09

* * *
3/5 Stars


  1. It's refreshing to find a book like this written by a man! It sounds like real life.

    Really excellent review!

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I'm going to peruse yours for a bit now; it looks so interesting!

  2. It's always nice to read a good review that doesn't compel me to add the book to my reading list. I think you were fair with your review.

  3. love the title of your blog and the layout! i love people who can be honest in reviews too.
    great blog. i love connecting with other readers, reviewers, and writers. i'm following you now. you should check out/follow mine. i have all things book related...
    nice seeing you.

  4. I think it's interesting you think it would be more appealing to men. I wonder if more men or women read memoirs?

    Anyway, thanks for a thoughtful review!

  5. Trish,

    I thought that this one would be more appealing to men because of the subject matter and way of writing.

    That's a good question though. It would be interesting to know who reads more memoirs in general: men or women. And does the author or tone of the memoir make a difference?

  6. I do love a good memoir. This one sounds rather quirky which appeals to me, too.

  7. A very belated thank you for taking the time to read and review my book. My family and moved to Virginia over the summer. School finally started and I am catching up on a mountain of things. Thanks so much again!

    Mark Millhone