Author: Paul Samuel Dolman
Maybe you’ve never had the good fortune to set foot on Martha’s Vineyard, the 100 square miles of East Coast island paradise just south of Cape Cod. Me neither. Home to the secluded vacation retreats of the rich and famous, “The Vineyard” is known for its quaint small town sensibility, lovely beaches, pleasant weather and eccentric residents. A few years ago, miserable due to a bevy of existential mid-life crises, music producer Paul Samuel Dolman spent the summer at his elderly parents’ cabin on the island, biking, swimming, ruminating and eating too many donuts. Well immersed in self-pitying doldrums, his summer suddenly took a turn for the better one beautiful day when he was hitchhiking on a quiet country road and was picked up by none other than world-famous television celebrity Larry David. They shared a few minutes of good-natured conversation, neither man knowing that this brief ride together would initiate a cascade of curious coincidences. With plenty of humor and an enthusiastic sense of adventure, Dolman tells his unusual story in Hitchhiking with Larry David.
Even though he’s never seen a single episode of Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dolman is able to slowly build a friendship with David over the summer, based entirely on an increasingly unlikely string of chance encounters as they both go about their business on the large island. Dolman’s lifelong avoidance of television continues to serve him well as he meets more celebrities while he bikes and hitchhikes around the island. Normally reluctant to engage with fans, particularly while on vacation, they seem to find it easy to engage with Dolman since he is so content to completely ignore their status as famous people. In fact, the author is remarkably comfortable talking with anyone, probing into a host of weighty topics with all sorts of people, from a homeless woman to a wealthy hedge fund manager to Ted Danson.
In between his surprisingly interesting encounters with strangers, Dolman reveals many of the sources of stress in his own life, from a lucrative job that left him feeling empty and unfulfilled, to his strained relationship with his parents, to the recent demise of his relationship with a “perfect” woman. Even though his story is full of plenty of self-deprecating humor, the author’s pity party gets a little tiresome at times, making it hard to care whether he manages to gain control of his demons in the end.
But that’s a minor quibble about what is really an enjoyable book. From his many wanderings around his old childhood haunts on a beautiful island to his witty banter with one of television’s most famous neurotic bald guys, Hitchhiking with Larry David is a fun and relaxed read that doesn’t hesitate to delve into some deep philosophical waters from time to time.
— D. Driftless
LD photo by David Shankbone