Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dwight Garner of The New York Times reviews COUNTRY DRIVING by Peter Hessler


In his review titled "Feeling at Sea on the Roads of New China," the Times' critic writes:  "...the reporting in “Country Driving” is impressive in its scope. This book contains dozens of characters and multiple set-pieces and subplots. Along the way Mr. Hessler delivers eloquent disquisitions on everything from how to buy a used car in China and what hospital stays are like to the history of the Mongol conquest and the pros and cons of the Great Wall as a defensive structure." 


... "Mr. Hessler is an impeccable compiler of facts, in the John McPhee Eagle Scout mold, and he lays these facts out elegantly." 


... "... like the quiet kid in the back of the classroom who ultimately becomes the best man at your wedding, Mr. Hessler, with his good-naturedness and tact, grows on you. So does his sly humor, which accumulates slowly, like the toothsome crust at the bottom of a rice pot." 


... "“Country Driving” is most affecting in its portrayal of lives ripped up at the roots, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. He describes the “hollow feeling” many Chinese have, because rapid change has left them exhausted and uncertain." 


... "Peter Hessler is a fine tour guide for the new China, a writer who is capable of tossing aside the country’s (deplorable) maps and admitting: “In China, it’s not such a terrible thing to be lost, because nobody else knows exactly where they’re going, either.”"