The Book Project: Driving with Dead People

Posted: 14 January 2008 in the book project

What, Who, When: Driving with Dead People written by Monica Holloway in 2007

Why on Earth: Our closest friends in the area are Lorraineand her girlfriend.  We have dinner with them, play cards, go to movies, pick apples, housesit, dogsit, and generally spend a lot of time together.  Every so often, we find ourselves in a booming little neighborhood where bookstores and specialty shops have sprung up around excellent restaurants and quiet streets.  It was ripe for a neighborhood revamping project and now it’s well lit at night with glittering little lights and a popular place to eat, stroll and people watch. 

One evening, while strolling and watching, we ended up in a bookstore.  Both Lorraine and her girlfriend are book types and so the four of us split off in different directions, L. to the anthropology books, her gf to the baby birthing books, D. to the music and me to wander, browsing, needing one or five from every section.  I’m not a buyer though, and so when I found a charming little, blue-spined book with the word “dead” on the cover, I snapped a picture and put it on my wishlist.

Here’s something you should know about my wishlist.  No one actually ever looks at it so I use it to remind myself which books to check out of the library.  It doesn’t mean I want to own them.  Thanks, mom.

Well?: A memoir, Driving with Dead Peopletakes a dark turn (not surprising given the title and genre) after the first several pages.  While the author documents a youth and young adulthood plagued with a dispassionate mother, an angry and absent father and deeply troubled siblings, it is infinitely more interesting to see her unveil honesty by degrees.  The first pages of the book set the stage.  Dad is no good, a short temper and bad sense of humor.  Mom is there, but distracted.  The sisters and brother?  Normal, mostly.  But as the chapters unfold, it’s clear what the author meant to say was dad: abusive, mom: bitter and selfish, sisters: damaged, brother: wasted.  Almost as if she couldn’t be truthful when she first started writing, and couldn’t admit it to herself, much less to us.  It was less an attempt at suspenseful character building than a book that changed from a witty look at a damaged childhood to a dark, honest, memoir.  I would have liked Holloway to pick one style or the other and stick with it, but it was, none-the-less, an engaging, fast read.

  1. Dylan says:

    You seem to read books very quickly. I wish I had that sort of dedication.
    I have a suggestion for your list: What is the What, by Dave Eggers. I’m reading it now, his writing style is fantastic and the story seems as if it will be interesting. Though I have to admit, each night I read about two chapters and have been having lucid frightening nightmares ever since!

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