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Story pick: Susan Orlean and wheels

Result of a serious automobile accident.

Image via Wikipedia


I have just spent the past few weeks in the purgatory of new car buying. I wasn't ready for it. Didn't want to be there. But my old car was hit and the other guy's insurance company decided to total it. So with a meager check (you don't get much for a '95 Volvo wagon), I began the search to replace an old friend. More on this later. Some words of advice: Never leave an indecisive person with obsessive compulsive disorder alone with Internet access ...


As I trudged through my purgatory, however, I found this little scene about modern car buying called Wheels, from Susan Orlean's New Yorker blog, Free Range. I love how, even in her shortest pieces, the way Orlean uses words is fresh and energetic, her imagery always surprising. And utterly on point:

Buying a car used to be an experience so soul-scorching, so confidence-splattering, so existentially rattling that an entire car company was based on the promise that you wouldn’t have to come in contact with it. In the past, a car buyer entered a dealership (a place that, free coffee aside, was plenty soul-scorching in its own right) much the way a fish entered a barrel guarded by an armed militia: Jaw gaping, eyes glassy and rolling, tender parts utterly exposed.

Enjoy. And drive carefully.


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By Brigid Schulte  | May 14, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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Next: A profile in precociousness

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