Alpine White BMW M4 Convertible, Fiona Red Leather Interior


Car Crushes

“I want to wrap / my face tight with a silk scarf and spiral    down /    a Cinque Terre highway in an Alfa Romeo,” writes Olivia Sokolowski in her poem “Lover of Cars,” which appears in the new Fall issue of the Review. And who doesn’t, when you put it like that? In celebration of Sokolowski’s poem, we’ve commissioned writers to reflect briefly on cars they’ve loved, struggled with, coveted, and crushed on.

I am not only a horrible driver but also a very confident one. I’ve never owned a car. I shouldn’t. Yet I’ve got an unaccountable and unyielding desire for a vehicle I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen. I want—have always wanted, with an impractical seriousness that astounds me—an Alpine White BMW M4 two-seater convertible with a perforated Fiona Red leather interior.

I can’t help myself. I want to get inside one so bad, and I want to ride it so slow, and I want to ride it fast, and I want to feel my feet thrill at being suspended only 120 mm above ground, at the threat of my toes being shredded into pavement. I want to park it and feel the brutal throb of my revving. I want to feel the car’s restraint, for to drive it at all is to tame it—it’s to feel 503 horses latent in the softest touch of gas.

Other cars can go faster. But these other cars look like small men who have taken too much testosterone. They do not come equipped with the M4’s elegant and low-sloping front-fender curvature. They do not have the same sleek steel-plated jaw directing the eye to the upper cusp of each tire. They are too souped-up. They are vehicles with aerodynamics. My M4 is aerodynamism.

As for the color scheme: why the white exterior and red interior? I don’t know. Japan? Peru? Candy cane? Mint? Fresh! Elegance!

While I dismiss other sports cars, I know that other vehicles—standard, medium-speed ones—have their appeal. They have their romance. I’ve experienced such things—I even went so far as to lose half my virginity in the back of a Jeep (a Wrangler befit with a busted passenger side door, a trunk full of old medical equipment, a sagging left-side tire, and a battery prone to failure, so prone in fact that one night it failed in the vacant parking lot of an Armenian church, which, incidentally, was when and where the partial deflowering took place, anyway). I could have developed hatchback attachments. Or gotten into salvaged cars—my great-grandfather ran a used-car junkyard, through which my grandfather and later my father paraded, climbing over engines, retrofitting fenders.

But all of that is behind me. Now I just want this one nice, perfect thing. No matter I’ve never seen one, no matter I’ll never afford one, no matter I should never drive one. I know you now, and maybe you know someone, who maybe possibly knows someone, who possibly knows or has heard of someone, who doesn’t have to let me drive their beautiful specimen, but who at the very least can take me for a ride.


Sophie Madeline Dess’s debut novel, Dead Center, will be published by Penguin Press in 2025. Her story “Zalmanovs” appears in issue no. 242 of the Review.