Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf, reviewed by Philip Ardagh
For much of the time, little happens. There are no big police chases (except for one involving a bicycle) and none of the more obvious rites of passage. But they do meet some interesting people in interesting places and, because it’s seen through Mike’s eyes, not too much is explained. Are they at some sort of religious community now? Is this scene set in a disused quarry? How and why did this girl get here?
This adds a very real, yet, at the same time, surreal edge to proceedings. In the same way that Frank McCourt’s memoir Angela’s Ashes related events as they were experienced at the time, with little, if any, adult reflection, we watch events unfold as Mike perceives them. The result is insightful and funny.
After finishing Why We Took the Car, I investigated Scheffler’s breakfast revelations. Sadly, they were true. Diagnosed in 2010 (the year this book was originally published), Herrndorf shot himself in August 2013. Apparently, one of the first things he did after being told he had cancer was get himself a gun. He said it was his link to reality and his exit strategy. His was an extraordinary mind.