Friday, May 18, 2007

Failed Review—Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair (Book)

Genre: Philosophy/Memoir
How I heard of it: It's a "classic." I've seen it on all kinds of "all time" lists. Didn't really realize it's more philosophy than memoir.
How far did I get? 134 of 400+.
What stopped me? Chatty McChatty. The author writes like a philosophy undergrad might talk after a few whiskey sours—on and on to get through a relatively simple topic.
Anything good? Well, the copy I have is a "P.S." copy, so it includes all kinds of extras about the author and discussion topics. The author's story is actually really interesting (mental illness, shock therapy, and so on), and it's a shame the philosophy part was done so dense and boring that it kept me from the memoir part. It's kind of a downer when, between scenes of travel and beautiful scenery, you have to put up with a long-winded professor—not nice.
Is the writing good? Yeah, the memoir parts are. The philosophy parts is not (and I double majored in philo, so enjoy it).
Disappointed? Big time. I actually really wanted to find certain stuff out—the story was intriguing—but it wasn't worth it to put myself through the torture of reading the rest of it. Plus, it's a "classic." Time tested. I thought for sure it would be a good read. T'was not.
What's next? I think I'll take a little break from novels here. I'm reading Best American Travel Writing while I try to catch up on my new New Yorker subscription. Not easy. And by the way, so far the fiction in them hasn't been anything to write home about. But the articles are interesting—I just read one on the graffiti artist Banksy the other day, it was really good.


Anonymous Tollo said...

Have to say, from what I remember of this book, I agree about how long-winded the guy is. For me, the problem with the book was the lack of closure; it didn't seem like either the memoir part or the philosophy part were fleshed out enough--they just sort of end. But the guy did have an interesting, if tragic, life, and some of his passages are great. While reading, I kept thinking thing like, "man, this section would make a great essay;" or, "this is a great quote."

11:04 AM  
Blogger Carlos P said...

I had a feeling I wasn't the only one. The extra stuff at the end of the book focused more on his life and that WAS really interesting like you said.

11:13 AM  

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