Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Review Week - Ghost Rider & Roadshow

And continuing our "And Now For Something Completely Different" theme, I am going to do a few book reviews this week (maybe)(I mean, that is my intent, but it doesn't always work out that way, sometimes life gets in the way). The books are mostly all riding related, but the first couple are two-wheeled riding, with the addition of 1100 cc's of BMW engine attached.

Ghost Rider - Travels on the Healing Road. By Neil Peart

This book chronicles the 55,000 miles that Neil Peart, drummer extraordinaire of Canadian rock band RUSH, rode on his BMW R1100 GS motorcycle after his daughter was killed driving to college in a one-car accident and his common-law wife of 20+ years died of cancer within the next 12 months. Peart, the thinking man's drummer and lyricist, or at least the thinking man that didn't mind toking up a bit in the 70's and contemplating life and mythology, was obviously distraught about losing his family in such circumstances and needed to contemplate and heal.

During the course of the book Peart does a fair amount of motorcycling, including some of it through our region, a bit of hiking and a smattering of mountain biking. The journey, and book, is tinged with sadness and is a bit self-indulgent, but in a completely understandable way considering the circumstances. I wouldn't consider this a great book, but it was an enjoyable read for a guy who likes riding a similar motorcycle.

I have to confess that it also started a new round of listening to RUSH, which I hadn't done in years. It also caused me to want to read another of Mr. Peart's books.

Roadshow - Landscape with Drums. By Neil Peart.

Similar to Ghost Rider, but written about the period two years later (2004, rather than 2002), this book is a travelogue of the BMW riding Peart does between concert dates on the RUSH tour. His band mates, Geddy Lee (derided as the ugliest man in rock and roll, but come on, he is at most the 8th or 10th ugliest man in rock and roll) and Alex Lifeson, travel by private jet and limo, but Peart is happy to be loading up onto a tour bus after the show, having the driver get him out of town while he sleeps and then taking up his own motorcycle from there the next morning.

The writing in this book is much better, probably from the experience from writing the prior book and because the subject matter was less personal and painful. This book is interesting and entertaining, whether Peart is talking about his drumming, the tour itself or the travels in between. A very enjoyable read for anyone who likes RUSH, motorcycling or a bit of adventure with a side of celebrity interest.

After reading these two books, I get the feeling it would be fun to meet up with Peart for a day or two of riding in the Pacific Northwest, where he often makes a run on the way to Vancouver or a tour date. Barring that, however, these books take you along for a ride for a lot more mileage than that.

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