Thursday, December 02, 2004

READ: Dan Neil

Dan Neil is fast becoming one of my favorite modern-day writers. I think he is a genius. The ultimate writing machine. OK, maybe I'm getting carried away a little here. But man, is he goooood.

Mr. Neil won a Pulitzer this year for his meritorious writing achievements. Achievements, indeed, because everything I've read so far by this fine writer is worthy of praise, prizes, and more Pulitzers. He has a masterful command of the English language, threading words together to compose the most stellar sentences that are a joy to read.

Oh, and did I mention that Mr. Neil is the automotive critic for the Los Angeles Times? Yep, he reviews cars. He's the first automotive critic to win a Pulitzer. Boy, did he deserve it.

He is such an outstanding writer that he has me reading car reviews for Pete's sake!!! All I know about the car is that it takes me from Point A to Point B if I'm thoughtful enough to satiate its demand for fuel. Obviously, I don't read his reviews because I'm interested in the automobile per se. I read purely to enjoy his superlative writing finesse. The language in his work is nearly poetic, and I love the wonderful metaphors he uses. What also makes his articles very readable for someone who is clueless about cars is that he injects keen cultural observations, and his humor also helps. He doesn't just write about cars. He contributes social/cultural commentary that this anthropology major appreciates very much.

One of my favorite articles is when he reviewed the Lexus SC430 and considered what constitutes a "chick car." Even though he kind of got technical comparing the physical attributes of a chick car as opposed to a more masculine-looking car, I thoroughly enjoyed it. His humorous approach made it reader-friendly so I wasn't completely lost as he threw out various automotive jargon.

My first encounter with Dan Neil was when I fortuitously read his piece on driving some crazy-hot, look-at-me Ferrari around car-centric Los Angeles for a week. It was probably the best article I read hands down. He didn't just talk about the car itself. He included the whole experience of what it felt like to drive around in such a car and what an ego-booster it was to his masculine psyche as he got reactions from various spectators. It practically read like an anthropological ethnography. And the quality of writing was absolutely awe-inspiring.

Maybe I'm just too easily impressed, but when I see good writing I can't help but appreciate it because I've been exposed to far too many mediocre writers.

::5 stars::