When my family moved out from Burlington, Vermont, to a dirt road in rural Essex Center, our life immediately began to suffer the series of challenges and small disasters that quickly sort out the clueless city guy from the true Vermonter. This collection of stories is mainly about those challenges, almost all of which I failed–and about the most important, most evil challenge of all: our driveway. A gravel driveway, especially a steep one, is an umbilicus between home and the outside world, an index of change that can wash out or burst into flower overnight, and the cause of more sweat and backache than all the rest of the property combined. In many ways, this book celebrates the glories of the countryside; in many ways it is appalled. If Thoreau had read this book, he would never have made the mistake of moving to Walden Pond–or at least he’d have made damn sure not to have a driveway.
The Driveway Diaries had a bizarre publishing history: it was excerpted in Harper’s and read aloud on Martha Stewart Radio, and sold out almost immediately, but the original publisher decided not to reprint it and it stalled at the height of its success. I have added three more chapters to round out the period of my rural experiment, and it is now finally available again, in this expanded second edition. Order it by clicking the Paypal button below!