This bold narrative written by the drummer and lyricist for the band Rush shows how Peart tried to stay alive by staying on the move after the loss ...Show synopsisThis bold narrative written by the drummer and lyricist for the band Rush shows how Peart tried to stay alive by staying on the move after the loss of his 19-year-old daughter and his wife. The book will be sold as part of the band's official merchandise during its 47-city American tour. 20 photos. 15 maps.Hide synopsis
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What made this even more disappointing was that I just finished a year-long tour of North America on my own bike, and on four separate occasions had people bring this book up in conversation. The premise of this book is a killer. Man loses both his daughter, then his wife, in less than a year and finds himself so shattered that he battles self-destruction from either booze and drugs or from outright suicide. He turns to his bike and the "Healing Road" for salvation, and spends months on the road and thousands of miles seeking solace. Unfortunately, Peart blows it spectacularly by portraying himself in such a superior, snobbish fashion that he completely alienates his reader and exhausts the vein of empathy quickly and completely. Soon after starting his journey his accounting of his travels devolves into a sequence of snippy, whining complaints about his lodging, his food, a dearth of 'proper' wine, and vicious criticism of the residents of the areas he passes through. Peart visited some of the same places that I visited, but his description of the place/person/event may only be a couple sentences before taking up his reprise of complaints over 'mediocre' food/lodging/locals. He's a body snob, and exhibits the most hateful quality of so-called 'liberal' minded people, which is that if you are an out of shape blue collar person you're only deserving of ridicule by your betters, if you don't have the proper haircut or recognize the proper vintage of some rare wine then you're only fodder for mockery and derision. He describes folks he sees in a chow line at some truck stop as 'hippos' without stopping to consider the slightest paring of sympathy for them, which is made even more farcical since every other page includes some reference to his deceased family then the phrase, '...suddenly my eyes were filled with tears.'
The quality of the writing falls precipitously, then around page 150(out of 460) he begins to abandon narrative and begins a reprinting of his letters to his drug dealer amigo who's recently been incarcerated for attempting to smuggle a truckload of pot into Canada. There's no pacing, no momentum, and no real story line to follow. Peart starts around page 270 to include letters to other folks, sometimes repeating what he has just addressed in a previous letter, and the effect is cloying and aggravating. By page 300 I just wanted it to be over. I wanted no more references to his fragile 'new Baby Soul' or his self-identification of his new personas like 'the Ghost Rider' or 'Ellwood, the Hollywood Playboy' etc. I REALLY got worn out on the name-dropping of authors, books, and faraway histories that seem to have little relevance to the place in the narrative and he appears to insert them only as a device to impress the reader with his depth and intelligence.
Since the book grows increasingly more self-centered and myopic I don't think that Peart even bothered to go back and read his finished product, or passages such as the following would have stood out to him. On page 302 he describes his reading of a book by Barry Lopez, then deprecatingly describes the tourists around him, but blind to the irony:
"Then I realized that what he was saying was not true. I mean, literally. For poetic effect he was changing and inventing the 'nature of Nature.' I'm sure he felt entitled to do this in the pursuit of some 'higher purpose' - a new and important kind of 'myth-making,' I'm sure his admirers would say. All full of 'powerful images' and 'visions' and 'poignant poesy,' like. But it's one of the few books in my life I have ever given up on in disgust, and I almost tossed it right in the trash.
"And it illustrates the gap that often separates people who apparently like the same things: like what I felt in Belize, for instance at the nature lodges. One night, I was looking around at all the other guests, in their Tilley Endurables and soft-looking, yet pinched-up faces, and said to Steve and Shelley, 'Does this mean WE'RE eco-tourists too?"
Fans of this book seem to be fans of the band Rush, and are glad to glean a little more insight into one of their idols, but the few people that I've encountered who gush about it don't seem to have actually finished READING the thing. And in a nod to the LD riders, I must say, "Your Mileage May Vary."
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