17 September 2008

Ghost Rider by Neil Peart

Just finished Neil Peart's book Ghostrider.

Peart is the drummer and lyricist with Rush and in the mid 90's his life was pretty much perfect, international rock star, great house by a lake, place in the Caribean, nice family etc. Then suddenly, it all went to shit and he lost is daughter in a car crash and then, 9 months later, his wife to cancer.

So, to deal with the pain he got on to his trusty GS1150 and rode and then rode some more. And he just kept riding, all around North America, from Canada, up to Alaska, down the west coast, through the Rockies down into Baja and across to the rest of Mexico. This book deals with his travels and the healing process he went through.

As a motorcycle travelog it is pretty good, although he comes across as a bit of a wimp at times he covers some long miles and is a good observer of the countryside he passes through. He fell in love with some of my favorite places in the western US, Moab, Canyonlands etc and his writing on Baja is pretty inspiring.

But the book is not just a a story about a bloke on a BM and much of the story is written as letters and extracts from letters to friends, especially his pal Brutus who has just been busted with a lorry load of dope - opps! To be honest I found these pretty tedious to read and actually quite repetitive, I caught myself sighing and having to force myself on when I turned a page and saw another "dear Brutus" sub heading.

The other place at which the book failed for me was at the end. He basically just stops riding and then in an epilog we are told that he feel in love again, got married, started back with the band and basically got himself sorted. It would have been great to follow that journey through, that is the real uplift to the story and it felt, at least to me like he just got bored of writing and did the last 2 years in 5 pages.

So I am really split on this one. Part of my enjoyed the book and would say it was essential reading if you love western North America, bikes and have any interest in Rush, other part of me feels its drawn out, indulgent and only half a story.

I guess you need to make up your own mind, I am just about to embark on Long Way Down, which if it is anything like its predessor will involve huge vats of self indulgant whinning and self pity from a couple of thespian tossers who only have a 5 million quid budget and 20 person support crew to ease the sufferring they endure when they miss their families while completing another once in life time, epic, trip.

Why do I feel compelled to ride books about people on bikes. I blame it on Jupiters Travels - the orginal and by far and away still the best.

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