This book proves that true experience does indeed soundly trump fiction at times. Shattered by the deaths of his daughter and wife, Neil Peart (drummer/lyricist of Rush) heads out on his trusty R1100GS for a fifty-five thousand mile, fourteen-month odyssey of healing and self-discovery that takes him across large portions of the continent. Driven by will and a deep reluctance to turn back, …to what?, he eventually finds reconciliation and peace, as well as a fresh start that we won’t spoil here. In short, quite a tale, told by a talented writer and flush with entertaining and moving scenes from his adventures. By Neil Peart. Softbound, 6"×9", 460 pp., no illus.
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Customer Reviews (3)
- A Wasted Trip....Review by Bill J. from Austin
Yeah, he rides, but...
After reading Peart's earlier book, The Masked Rider, I took up Ghost Rider in search of more adventure, and perhaps an insight or two on grief. I slogged through the entire thing, certain there HAD to be a jewel or two in all that verbiage, but came away sorely disappointed on both counts. In The Masked Rider, Peart proved himself capable of being one of the guys. In Ghost Rider, he shows he can be an elitist prig, as well. The book is littered with disparaging references to people he encounters on the road.
There's also precious little 'adventure' here. The author travels the width and breadth of North America, and never once camps out, mingles with the natives, or stays at anything less than a Best Western or Super 8 Motel. His biggest 'gamble' is whether he'll get a proper wine with his poached salmon. Worse yet, while his motorcycle eats up the miles, Peart travels not at all. He begins and ends his account in the same emotional and spiritual place. He survives his grief, but gives no indication that he's grown through it, or learned from it.
Another failing, in my opinion, is in editing. I couldn't tell, with a visit to their website, if ECW is a 'vanity press' or an actual publisher, but it's obvious no one there reined in Peart's penchant for excruciating minutiae, and outsized excerpts from letters to family and friends.
I do give Peart props for two things. First, he is a SERIOUS long-distance rider, and with over 30 years of motorcycling behind me, I know what that means. Second, as a storyteller, he would probably make a pleasant enough dinner guest, provided we serve the proper wine!
Although I do NOT recommend Peart's Ghost Rider, I highly recommend his earlier book, The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa, about his compelling and emotionally satisfying bicycle tour of Western Africa.
For motorcycle travel, go with Storm: A Motorcycle Journey of Love, Endurance, and Transformation, a particularly good read about an emotionally challenging trip through Europe. Readers might also enjoy Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend, in which a novice rider attempts to replicate Che Guevara's legendary trip through South America; Pilgrimage on a Steel Ride: A Memoir About Men and Motorcycles, where the author struggles with and learns to face his own mortality while on a solo ride from New Mexico to Alaska; Riding with Rilke: Reflections on Motorcycles and Books, in which a university professor takes a literate and revealing trip from his home in Alberta to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas here in Austin (and all without the irritating anti-American whine of Peart's tome); The Perfect Vehicle: What It Is About Motorcycles, which includes the very BEST explanation I've ever seen of WHY we ride motorcycles; and Down the Road: Genuine Mileage On Classic Motorcycles, which explores the classic rider's fascination with those obsolete, cantankerous, oil-spattered, endearing and soul-satisfying old machines. I believe most readers of motorcycle literature, and those seeking emotionally evolved adventure of any sort, will be better served with these titles. (Posted on 2/8/16)
- Helps me, too.Review by DavidACox
- This book was my daily companion on my recent motorcycle trip, a trip I took to be with friends and scatter my wife's ashes. I couldn't have made a better choice. Thanks Neil Pearl. (Posted on 8/27/11)
- Fifty-five thousand miles...Review by Al Bates
Fifty-five thousand miles in fourteen months. This is almost every motorcyclist dream. If this was all the book was about it would be a good read. However, this ride is a test to see if the author can find a reason to live.
"Do good things and good things will happen to you." This is how the author viewed the world around him until that night when he heard the news about his daughter that would forever change is life. This begins a downward tail spin for one of Rock N Roll's greatest drummers/ lyricist.
Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people. It's one of life's hard lessons for us all. The death or illness of a loved one or maybe a friend in trouble. None of us is ever prepared for the day even one of these events arrives on your own door-step. This is the story of one man trying to understand the why his plate is suddenly filled, until these is nothing left inside.
Neil Peart has the rare ability to open up and share his heart and mind as he ponders the "why" of it all. As his healing begins on the back of his BMW GS, we are riding along with him. One mile at a time, one day at a time. Sometimes stumbling and feeling why should you keep going, why not just give up. Then, true to life there's always another turn in the road.
We are able to see trough his eyes the view of the road, people, and country. These images of the people and places are at times thought provoking, and then the world becomes colorless, void of light and laughter. Other times it's a view full of depth and grandeur. Every turn becomes full of the simple mystery of life and a reminder that he and we, can and should go on. His book gives light to the words if you want to change your perception, then change your perspective.
A great read from someone who's life has turned him into someone that is less of a rock-star or even a man. Instead, he has become only the ghost rider. A true survivor on the road of life. (Posted on 5/25/08)
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