Buckley takes the reader back to his childhood in Montecito, just outside of Santa Barbara, during the 1950s and 1960s. These eighteen essays are a chronicle of the rapid cultural and physical changes that coincided with his coming of age in California as a member of the baby boom generation. ""I know it's simplistic,"" writes Buckley, ""but nine out of ten days all I want to do is drive an old Chevy again, lean back against the wide bench seat, switch the AM radio on to a game, shift that 3-speed on the column, and cruise with the windows down."" What Buckley calls the ""fire at the edge of things""--the blindingly rapid changes during his lifetime in society, politics, and technology--glows brightly throughout the eighteen narratives in the book. Discussion of these issues takes place in the context of people's lives--either Buckley's or those of his friends--rather than in abstract terms. Cruising State is deeply personal, yet universal in appeal.