Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review: Conversations With A Motorcycle

You might have surmised that I am woefully behind since I didn't post anything for so long.  Now it is finding the time to get fingers to keyboard to purge the sludge (hopefully coherently) from my brain.  There is one item that I am responsible for and pathetically late on.

Conversations With A Motorcycle by Jack Riepe

Long, long ago Dom of Redleg's Rides wrote an intelligent review of the book.  Due to some smartass comment I wrote, intimating how lucky he was to receive an advance copy, Jack contacted me.  It was time to shut up and put up.  Jack kindly sent me a copy of mine own.

One thing lead to another and I wasn't able to read the book in a manner that I could intelligently review on. I have and I have to pay for that trust.

I'm a strange one.  I am probably among a handful of women that actually enjoy Jack's profanity-laced, sexually-charged writing on his blog Twisted Roads.  (No, I am not getting paid to say that.)  There is something in the way he writes that just draws me in and I sit there laughing.  My husband gets annoyed with me reading passages out of context to him.

But to the book.  It is not written in the same tone as the blog.  It is a cohesive narrative into the life of a beginning rider that has two basic [conscious] ambitions: hot pillion candy and acceptance.

We are whisked along on Jack's first introduction to two-wheeled conveyances, and experience with him the moment he is smitten.  It is a feeling we will all remember, rider and non-rider alike. Along comes the introduction to the famed Kawasaki H2 "Widow Maker" and Jack's intrepid first miles on it.  Don't think that he worried about never having ridden before, recognize that his first thought was wishing the gorgeous girl across the street would be outside to notice him on his hot bike when he rode it home.  There is no missing that he bought the bike for one reason.

The story gains depth as we are introduced to the characters he hangs around, and the girls he wants to be involved with.  And we don't have any difficulty in understanding why some hold him in complete attempt.  The story isn't just about the pursuit of women, though.  Read between the lines to learn of the life and lessons that are learned.  There is an allegory in here that must be cracked.

While it is an easy read, I was having a difficult time trying to come up with how to review it. I am not a guy.  So I can't relate to that.  I did not get into motorcycling to attract girls.  So I can't relate to that either.  How am I supposed to think about this book?!?!  It finally hits me.  I relate to the motorcycle.  I'm pretty sure I would have the same remarks coming from me as the motorcycle said to him.

"It's not the destination, it's the ride."
"Don't bother with what other people think."
"If you have to try hard to fit in, you never will."
"What did you think would happen?"

Through so much of the book I had to groan at his setup to a situation.  I could see the outcome, why couldn't he?  His motorcycle would even spell out the error of his way, and he would blithely ignore it.

This book is incredibly well written to take a rider through motoring nirvana.  I am a ghost on my bike beside him as he leans the bike into a 100 mph curve.  I'm displacing the droplets of fog on an early morning run next to him on my whispering bike.  I'm enjoying the drop in air temperature as the road drops in elevation towards the river at the bottom of the valley.  I'm sitting across the table from him when he sees brunette #1 and the snake, watching the action unfold across his face.  I'm watching him across the fire, seeing him tinged in flickering light as he approaches brunette #2.

Jack is able to write in a way that pulls you into the book and brings you along.  No.  I may not relate to his 19 year old self, but I could relate to the riding.  As a rider, I can understand the aspects of the ride. I can revel in the immersion into the elements of the ride.  Jack is able to help me relive simple connections to my motorcycle that sometimes slip my mind.

After my fifth reading, the last half curled on a loveseat, looking through the blinds at an early gray morning, tiptoeing away from a warm bed, I can finally sink into the last chapters, and am left in a pensive mood over the baring of a soul.

I like the book.  Yes, there is still some vulgarity, hinted and obvious, that is "just Jack".  But I read it for the ride.  And it is a lovely ride.  :)


  1. Excellent are in the wrong line of business!

    1. I would love to be able to sit and read and get paid to write about what I read. My problem is giving enough information without giving the plot away...and agonizing over what I should and shouldn't say... I'm glad this one worked for you!

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  3. Lori:

    Can't wait for mine. Jack had it in his hands when we spoke last week. He does have a way with words and metaphors

    Your review was most excellent

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Well I'm glad that you are getting near to getting yours! I think you will like some of his metaphors in this one. :)

  4. Dear Steel Cupcake (Lori):

    What nice things you said about my work! And if you groaned through the heartbreaking setup of my situations, imagine the horror they imposed on me. I had to live them, if for no other reason than to entertain the masses 40 years later! I cannot deny that the dialogue is often the vernacular of Jersey City. But I can assure you, that the characters in Bambi would sound like longshoremen if they lived in my neighborhood.

    You need to get a special award for reading the book five times... And only I know the reason behind that ordesl.

    I deeply regret we didn't get the chance to ride together on your visit here last summer. I hope to rectify that. I think it would be really cool to ride through the Adirondacks next time though. Now, after the horror of reviewing this first moto-book, do you want dibs on the sequel?

    Thanks for the great review.

    Jack Riepe
    Twisted Roads

    1. Jack,

      It was great talking with you tonight. I am firmly under the impression that you were thinking of how any sentence could look in black and white print in the future. I don't believe you thought it would be forty years though.

      Ordeal? Reading it five times wasn't on ordeal. It was like slogging through mud two feet high, pulling Fireballs in a boat, with you in the saddle flagging a mace. What can I say. I'm a slow learner.

      I'm looking forward to the day we hit the Adirondacks together. I think your escort group will be so large that we will be kicked out of the park. Oh well. The better to take over some lake bar. :)

      If you offer a squeal, err sequel, I'll definitely take you up on it. My honor.

  5. Although I am not a big on reading novels, this sounds like an interesting read from your perspective. I may have to borrow your book :-)

    1. Oil-Burner:

      Perhaps you could get her to read it out "aloud for you". That would be good, wouldn't it ? and then perhaps record it for the Audio Book and put it on iTUNES

      Riding the Wet Coast
      My Flickr // My YouTube

    2. Oilburner, Jack told me I couldn't lend you my copy. You would have to purchase your own. ;)

    3. Bobskoot, somehow I don't think I would make a very good reader. I would put too much emphasis on how intelligent the bike is, how toughened the ladies are, and how sarcastic everything sounded coming out of Jack's mouth. This needs to be read in his voice. It will make much better listening. The better to snort your whiskey out through your nose. :) I hear your copies might be arriving soon!

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