Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Book Review - Neil Peart Ghost Rider

I recently finished Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. This book was basically a road journal of Neil’s year and a half of ‘mobile mourning’ for the double loss of his child and spouse in the mid- 90s.

Long story short, Neil suffered the unfathomable loss of his daughter to a car accident, and then his wife to cancer (he called it a broken heart due to the death of the daughter - makes sense) within a year of each other.

Unreal. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose your whole family one after the other like that.

And Neil couldn’t imagine it either. The book chronicles the darkness that surrounded him after these events and how he for some reason kept persevering day by day with the vague notion that ‘something would come up.’

He decided to hop on his motorcycle and just head out. He wound up putting 55,000 miles on his BMW R1100GS bike over 14 months, driving from Ontario to Alaska, then south through the West Coast and Rockies down to Mexico. In a second journey he headed east to the coast of Canada and south into New England.

The book chronicles the heartache and soul searching he went through on these travels – the ups and downs. Mostly downs, but as time passed on, more ups. It’s incredible that Neil, a very private person by all accounts (including his own) would give us a glimpse into his pain and healing.

But he also writes elegantly about all the places he visits and drives through. See, Neil doesn’t like to take the highways everyone else takes. He travels on forest roads and gravel trails. The more desolate and unpopulated the better. He also has little tolerance for most people, especially tourists, and his commentary on American RV captains is funny but also sadly accurate.

Sometime the writing gets a bit tedious, as he uses letters he has written to friends to illustrate points or to further the story. This gets old in spots only because some of the letters repeat things he’s already said. He also gets a bit over-descriptive in spots.

But generally, I felt like I got to know Neil at bit better, which is cool because I have always respected and been intrigued by him. I mean, the dude is one mean mo-fo drummer and not a bad lyricist either.

He has other books out that I will read eventually but I think this one was the heavy, insightful one. The story has a happy ending and of course we know that since these journeys, he’s back with Rush and has three albums and three tours under his belt. But it’s interesting to read about the time when drumming, Rush and pretty much everything else took a back seat to a journey of healing, all well chronicled in this book.

3 comments:

VoxMoose said...

Nice reivew, Isorski. When I started reading it several years ago, I actually couldn't finish it. Not because it is bad (it's not, as you said) but because it was actually too personal. I got about halfway through and had to put it down. Perhaps I should revisit it.

Isorski said...

I had a hard time in the middle of the book, too. Not because of the heavy subject but because I thought his first big trip could have been the whole book. the second half is a bit slower and I kind of had to push through it. But it gets good at the end and like I said, the ending is happy, so what the heck...

Barbara (aka Layla) said...

Really good reivew, I will add this to my list of books to read. Hard to comprehend how someone can endure that much tragic loss in such a short time span.