Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road by Neil Peart

Well, I have no idea what happened to me. I thought it had been a couple days since I updated last, but turns out it has been like a week! I still have books to send to people. I have not forgotten!

Within a ten-month period, Neil Peart suffered family losses so devastating that they left him a ghost -- physically a man but with nothing

No hope, meaning, faith or desire to keep living. One year after the first tragedy, Neil was choosing between life and his own death. Finally, all he could decide upon was motion. He got on his BMW R1100GS motorcycle, and over the next fourteen months, rode 55,000 miles, in search of a reason to live. On a journey of escape, exile, and exploration, he traveled from Quebec to Alaska, down the Canadian and American coasts and western regions, to Mexico and Belize, and finally back to Quebec. While riding "the Healing Road," Neil recorded in his journals his progress and setbacks in the grieving/healing process, and the pain of constantly reliving his losses.

He also recorded with dazzling, colorful, entertaining, and moving artistry, the enormous range of his travel adventures, from the mountains to the sea, from the deserts to Arctic tundra, and the dozens of memorable people, characters, friends and relatives, he met along the way, and who increasingly contributed to his healing and sense of meaning and purpose. He begins the journey with nothing, "the Ghost Rider." What he finally attains is joy, love, and indelible memories of the most extraordinary journey of his life.

GHOST RIDER is a bold, brilliantly written, intense, exciting, and ultimately triumphant narrative memoir from a gifted writer and musician, who started out as a man reduced to trying to stay alive by staying on the move.

I mentioned last month that I was very interested in the band Rush lately and Stephanie, I believe it was, mentioned that he had written a book about life after the death of his wife and daughter. So, you know I had to get myself a copy. It works perfectly, though, because he is a Canadian, so this will fit in with the Themed Reading Challenge. See how I justify that! My friend that got me paying attention to Rush commented on how they have loved the band for years and never felt compelled to buy a book by them. I pointed out that is because he is lucky to read a book a year, while I, well, I read... Normally a lot, but this year has just been average. In any case, I went to the store and bought another book by him, so you know that I do not feel guilty in the least buying this book.

I love how Neil Peart writes. He was just what I needed lately. He kept me up late at night reading! This is something that has hardly happened in six months! I called my Rush-fan friend at 3 in the morning one time to tell him he was missing out and to share some of the interesting things I had just learned. And thanks to the wonders of text messaging, as I read along I tend to share interesting sentences and thoughts with him. I am sure he is thrilled. To get back at me he showed me three old pictures of the three members of Rush and asked me to tell him which one was which. Evil! Anyways, let's get on with the book. Neil Peart is the lyricist for Rush, so it stands to reason that since I really like a lot of his song lyrics, there was a very good chance he could also write pose. I was willing to take that chance, and I am very glad I did!

Instead of summarizing the plot or whatever, I am just going to share what I was thinking as I read the book and some of the things that stuck out for me. First off, this is at its core a depressing book. It is about a man that lost his daughter and wife in a ten-month period. There is no way that can be a happy beginning to a book. He doesn't really know how to deal after suffering such a tragic lost, and really, who would? So, he sets out on three different motorcycle adventures during the course of this book. I suddenly really want to go on a motorcycle. I have before, but very few times, so my Rush-fan friend is going to get one of his friends to take me for a drive. That was the topic of conversation at supper today... I just have motorcycles on the mind, so I want to experience one now.

Another thing I want to acknowledge is that I am very happy that things played out the way that they did. My friend likes older Rush, not so much the new stuff, but I am actually pretty infatuated with both eras (or however you want to look at it), so I am happy that the band got back together. There was a period there where Neil wasn't drumming at all, so the band took a hiatus in order for him to work through all the things that are discussed during the course of this book. If the book had any different ending then they may never have got back together, so I am happy about the ending. I also really enjoy Peart's writing style. It is coherant, for starters, much different than I am sure this rambling review is, in any case. He covers the depressing stuff, but there is a lot more going on during the course of the book. He is not boring, sometimes memoirs seem to drag on with all the contemplative stuff. He has a really refreshing sense of humour (I actually told my Rush-fan friend that he reminds me of him in many ways), so there were many times where I found myself laughing at what he was saying.

I think I especially liked the fact that I could ramble on about this book to my friend who does not read. It was refreshing because very few of my friends read, so I never really talk about books. I have to read a Pink Floyd book now, my friends orders, but since I like Pink Floyd I am not really complaining. He has actually read it, which in itself is pretty amazing! It is a really good thing he doesn't read my blog, huh? haha

Anyways, I really liked this book. I think even if you are not a Rush fan, it is a good read. I am going to plug away at another one by him, but I want to read some fantasy as my main reads. One thing I can say, I haven't read as much this year as I normally do, but I also have not really read any really bad books, so at least when I do read, I enjoy it. That is saying something!


  1. Anonymous9:36 PM

    Yep, it was me! As I mentioned, I've always been a Rush fan but hadn't picked up the book (even though I told you about it)! Now that I read your review, I'm definitely going to read it! I'm not surprised it was well written, since he writes most of the lyrics for Rush songs, and they are just awesome!

  2. haha. I guess I just assumed you read it! I have faith in your recommendations, so I am happy I listened to you, even if you haven't read it yourself. He has a really good writing voice. I am already sort of reading a more recent book by him and it is good so far. I imagine I will read all his books..

  3. Every now and then I do enjoy a memoir... maybe someday I'll have to read this one. :)

  4. I'm usually hesitant about memoirs, but this one has been on my wish list for a long time now.

  5. what a excellent book will be, I so anxious to this book be release to market right now, this history is so cool.


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