Title: Never Drive a Hatchback to Austria: And Other Valuable Life Lessons
Author: RA Dalkey
Genre: Humour, Travel
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Life’s funny: one month you’re trying to work out how to buy a second-hand car without getting screwed over by some dodgy con artist, the next you’re plotting your escape from fanatically neurotic housemates. One year you’re living in small-town Oxfordshire, the next you’re a bewildered new citizen of Vienna. In this meandering meditation on the chance happenings, mindless annoyances and general ridiculousness of modern existence, R.A.Dalkey tells the true tale of five homes, three jobs, two very different countries and one superannuated Peugeot 306.
If being a grown-up were as simple as holding down a job, buying a reliable car, finding the home of your dreams and living happily ever after, there’d be no need for this book. But the author’s unorthodox approach and complete failure to accept the world of adulthood was never going to make it that straightforward. Set against the backdrop of his ever-swelling mid-thirties grumpiness and the growing realization that he might never actually become a millionaire, this story follows him and his trusty hatchback from England to Vienna - a journey that takes him to Cyprus and Venice, Slovenia and Surrey, Belgium and Bonn.
R.A. Dalkey has weaved this tale with a great amount of detail and so the reader can almost feel like they themselves are taking this trip. There are colourful and fun characters written throughout the story which highlights the incredible world we live in and our protagonist provides his reflections on the world which serves to enrich the story. But our protagonist takes us off the beaten track and shows us the twists and turns life can take us on when we veer off the road most travelled. He is determined and resilient in achieving his goals. He forges his own path while marching to his own drum rather than letting others dictate his beat. The misadventures which occur along the way do not dampen his rebellious nature but spur him onwards to complete his goals. His fun quirks and refusal to grow up are endearing. One thing I took from this story was the idea of taking life as it comes. If life gives you lemons, you should definitely smash them and make the best of it. Not all moments are great and yet, one day, we can look back at our experiences and hopefully see the funny side. Additionally, each moment led us to the point where we are today and no other path could have gotten us there. And don't forget to take risks, why have regrets about the things you didn't do? It was an enjoyable read which had me wanting to plan my next trip, even with the possibility of obsessive housemates and tricky signposts.
About the Author . . .
An incorrigible dreamer, he's driven outback trucks in Australia, spent two years trying to be a professional golfer and slept rough everywhere from Monte Carlo to Siberia, visiting over 70 countries along the way. Including Ireland, where he cracked up every time he rode the DART train past a town called Dalkey, and an author name was born.
As for the occasional bout of work, he's known to do his fair share of editing magazines and writing. His words have been published by GQ, Reader’s Digest, The Sunday Times, Australian International Traveller, Reuters, Autosport and Sports Illustrated, to name just a handful.