by Neil Peart
460 pages, $19.95 (paperback)
ECW Press, copyright 2002
by Sev Pearman
What would you do if you were faced with the unthinkable loss of your family? How would you cope? Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist for Canadian rock group Rush, is forced to face these questions in his autobiographical Ghost Rider.
Ten months after the death of their daughter in a car crash, Peart loses his wife after she contracts cancer. After these staggering losses, Peart wonders what he has to live for. The author decides to seek purpose by riding his BMW R1100 GS.
Over the next fourteen months and 55,000 miles, Peart wandered in search of a reason to live. Ghost Rider documents his travels from Quebec and Western Canada, up to Alaska, through the American Southwest, Mexico and Belize then the Maritime Provinces, through New England and New York City before returning to rural Quebec. His extraordinary riding adventure is described via entries from his riding journal.
Peart’s inner odyssey is revealed through copies of letters written to extended family and friends. Along the journey he reads a staggering amount of authors. He quotes Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis, Steinbeck, and Jack London. His descriptions of natural beauty and wildlife are echoed by lines from explorer John Wesley Powell, Wallace Stegner and Thoreau.
Rush fans will devour personal anecdotes about the history of the band, the author’s relationships with his bandmates as well as touring and performance memories. In addition, Rush song lyrics (written by Peart) are sprinkled through the text as literary guideposts. There is ample material here to satisfy the most dedicated Rush fan.
Aided by time, miles, family and friends, Neil eventually begins to heal and find new meaning and purpose. Ghost Rider is bleak, universal & brutally honest. MMM gives this month’s selection three out of four cylinders.
Rush completist–Laden with band lore and first-person stories. Recommended.
Rider–Loaded with vivid descriptions, good routes and new trip ideas.
Reader dealing with loss–Read this and ride to aid healing.
MMM would like to thank Geoffrey P. for first bringing this title to our attention. Sev Pearman welcomes your comments and future book review ideas. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Please put “book review” in the subject line.