Wednesday, August 12, 2009


by Mark Millhone

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Rodale Books (July 7, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1594868239
ISBN-13: 978-1594868238

Synopsis (from the publisher):

A man reconnects with his dad and finds his way back from a year filled with tragedy and loss in this touching memoir that puts a humorous cast on some of life’s darkest moments.

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.

MY RATING: 4/5 stars


PATRON SAINTS OF USED CARS AND SECOND CHANCES came to me at just the right time. I've read quite a few heavy, intense books lately, and I wanted something different. I found it in Mark Millhone's new memoir.

While Millhone certainly experiences more than his share of trials and tribulations, his wry and ironic sense of humor about the absurd workings of the world keep his story from being just another run-of-the-mill tearjerker with a happy ending. Mark Millhone is FUNNY! He likens his troubles to holding a membership in the "tragedy-of-the-month club." When you consider that he has coped with a critically ill newborn son, the death of his mother, his father's cancer diagnosis, and the disintegration of his marriage, all in a short span of time, humor might seem like an inappropriate or even immature response. But Millhone doesn't use humor to avoid dealing with the demands and complexities of these issues; rather it allows him to cope with them, eventually leading him through and setting him on the path of healing himself, repairing and strenghtening his marriage, and forging a new kind of relationship with his father.

What I particularly liked about PATRON SAINTS OF USED CARS AND SECOND CHANCES is Millhone's "guyitude." (I think I've made that word up.) Men and women don't always use the same coping mechanisms, and this book isn't written for women, though some women might enjoy it. It's written for men. Guys. Unfortunately, I didn't have one handy to test it out on, but I think Millhone's background as a writer for Men's Health Magazine gives him "street cred."

While it would be interesting to compare the perspective of Millhone's wife, Rose, that would be another story, another book. This one is Mark Millhone's. I enjoyed it and I'd recommend this book to anyone who is a guy -- or knows one!

About the Author (from the publisher):
Mark Millhone is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, columnist and teacher.

After graduating from Columbia University with an MFA in Film Direction and winning the Academy Award for Best Student Film, Mark spent more than five years wandering the vast desert of Hollywood development hell before resurfacing as a screenwriting professor at NYU Film School and the Dysfunctional-Male-in-Residence at Men’s Health Magazine. His humorous columns for that magazine (and his need to deal with a very un-humorous year from hell for his family) are what begat his memoir, The Patron Saint of Used Cars & Second Chances (coming out in hardcover on July 7th).

But, of course, like every other moron who went to film school, what Mark really wants to do is direct and has several projects in development: The Other Jennifer (a romantic-comedy based on one of his magazine columns) and Serenity Falls (his Sisyphusian attempt to re-make Chinatown set in present-day Dallas, Texas). Cameras roll on his feature film directorial debut Minuteman, this summer.

Mark lives in New York and has two lovely children and two rather strange-looking dogs.

Click here to visit the author's website for links to his articles and videos of him reading from his book.

Thank you to Lisa of TLC Book Tours for organizing this tour
and to the publisher for supplying me with a review copy of the book.


joemmama said...

Terrific review! Thanks

trish said...

Boy books are such a rare find, I think, so it's good to know when someone *does* find one.

Thanks for the thoughtful review, Gwendolyn!

bermudaonion said...

I love memoirs and think this one sounds like a lot of fun!

Lit and Life said...

Sounds like a great one to get to share with the hubby.

Diane said...

I like a lot of memoirs, so I may just have to try this one sometime. Great review

Brenda said...

I'd love to read this and perhaps share with my nephews.


I'm a follower!

Wanda said...

I like the title and though I don't read many memoirs, I do like a good road trip book. I also have a few guy friends who may enjoy this one.

Zibilee said...

I hadn't heard much about this book, only head the title mentioned in passing. I think it looks like a really fun book with a lot of heart. I might have to do some more investigating on this book because it looks like a great read for me. Great review, and thanks!