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Zen and Now: on the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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On the Trail of Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Zen and Now is the story of a story that will appeal to the 5 million readers of the original and serve as an initiation to a whole new generation. Since its original publication in 1968, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values has touched whole generations of readers with On the Trail of Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Zen and Now is the story of a story that will appeal to the 5 million readers of the original and serve as an initiation to a whole new generation. Since its original publication in 1968, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values has touched whole generations of readers with its serious attempt to define “quality” in a world that seems indifferent to the responsibilities that quality brings. Mark Richardson expands that journey with an investigation of his own – to find the enigmatic author of Zen and the Art, ask him a few questions, and place his classic book in context. The result manages to be a biography of Pirsig himself – in the discovery of an unknown life of madness, murder and eventual resolution – and a splendid meditation on creativity and problem-solving, sanity and insanity.


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On the Trail of Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Zen and Now is the story of a story that will appeal to the 5 million readers of the original and serve as an initiation to a whole new generation. Since its original publication in 1968, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values has touched whole generations of readers with On the Trail of Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Zen and Now is the story of a story that will appeal to the 5 million readers of the original and serve as an initiation to a whole new generation. Since its original publication in 1968, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values has touched whole generations of readers with its serious attempt to define “quality” in a world that seems indifferent to the responsibilities that quality brings. Mark Richardson expands that journey with an investigation of his own – to find the enigmatic author of Zen and the Art, ask him a few questions, and place his classic book in context. The result manages to be a biography of Pirsig himself – in the discovery of an unknown life of madness, murder and eventual resolution – and a splendid meditation on creativity and problem-solving, sanity and insanity.

30 review for Zen and Now: on the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    When I first read Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I felt somewhat bewildered. I loved his passion, I loved the intensity of his relationships and his beliefs about life. And yet, I felt he was over his head, trying to build sanity on shaky ground. He desperately tried to shore up that foundation with his ideas of quality, but if he succeeded in solidifying the foundation, I for one was never convinced. I was prepared to let Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance sli When I first read Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I felt somewhat bewildered. I loved his passion, I loved the intensity of his relationships and his beliefs about life. And yet, I felt he was over his head, trying to build sanity on shaky ground. He desperately tried to shore up that foundation with his ideas of quality, but if he succeeded in solidifying the foundation, I for one was never convinced. I was prepared to let Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance slide into my hazy past, when I recently came across a memoir, Zen and Now by Mark Richardson, which offered to give me a guided tour of the earlier book. I jumped at the chance. I’m glad I did. Now, after reading Zen and Now, I feel vastly more understanding of Pirsig’s book, and I had a lovely journey with Richardson at the same time. Zen and Now is also a motorcycle ride, following as closely as possible to Pirsig’s original route, woven with a fun, intricate, and entertaining mix of Richardson’s own observations about life, motorcycles, small town American life, and a few other things. This interwoven structure is one of my favorite things about the book. Oh, one more thing. It was a sort of recounting of Richardson’s own mid-life crisis, and in a clever twist, his angst mirrored the soul searching pressure that drove Pirsig to hit the road. The book turned out to be a splendid meditation on creativity and problem-solving, sanity and insanity.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gerald

    While Robert Pirsig was open in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, about his personal life and the effect it had on his loved ones, he spoke from a selfish state of detachment. Mark Richardson, through his interviews and letter exchanges with the Pirsig family (as well as others) exposes the price that Robert, Nancy, Ted and Chris paid to sustain Robert in his mighty quest. In the end, Zen and Now, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, are books about dealing with life with the While Robert Pirsig was open in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, about his personal life and the effect it had on his loved ones, he spoke from a selfish state of detachment. Mark Richardson, through his interviews and letter exchanges with the Pirsig family (as well as others) exposes the price that Robert, Nancy, Ted and Chris paid to sustain Robert in his mighty quest. In the end, Zen and Now, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, are books about dealing with life with the deck of cards that has been dealt each of us. Neither author is, nor claims to be, a perfect person, but neither made attempts to hide his weaknesses, an each plowed ahead to accomplish the goals he set for himself. That message of moving forward with our weaknesses is an important lesson for anyone to learn. One last comment regarding the way that people opened up to Mark, says a lot about him and about life in rural America. I was impressed with the efforts he spoke about in the afterword, to keep up with those he befriended while on his journey.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    There's something about reading a book while you're sick, a strange dislocation that both concentrates the mind and sets the imagination adrift. For the last couple days I've been home with a bad cold, reading Zen and Now – pausing only for another pot of awful herbal tea or a richly-layered sneeze. Mark Richardson's book is the account of a "Pirsig pilgrim" – someone who hops on a motorcycle and religiously follows the itinerary from Minnesota to San Francisco mapped out in Zen and the Art of Mo There's something about reading a book while you're sick, a strange dislocation that both concentrates the mind and sets the imagination adrift. For the last couple days I've been home with a bad cold, reading Zen and Now – pausing only for another pot of awful herbal tea or a richly-layered sneeze. Mark Richardson's book is the account of a "Pirsig pilgrim" – someone who hops on a motorcycle and religiously follows the itinerary from Minnesota to San Francisco mapped out in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I'm old enough to remember buying the cheap Bantam paperback of that book when it appeared in the mid-70s, and like thousands of others, I completely succumbed to its spell. I read it again back in the 90s and the old magic was still there. So when I saw Zen and Now on the new books table at Get Lost (a great little travel bookstore on Market), I immediately snapped it up. Now, having just finished reading it through a haze of antihistamines, I can only describe it as a rubbing – the kind of homage people pay to tombstones. All the way through the book I had the sense of reading Pirsig through Richardson. But little of the magic transferred. That's not to say the book doesn't have its charms. Richardson writes with a dedicated intensity, but there's also something melancholy about someone living so determinedly in someone else's shadow. Speaking of shadows, there is one that definitely emerges from the book – Chris Pirsig, the troubled 11-year-old boy in the book who spends the journey staring at the sullen back of his father, a man more interested in his monomania than his son. Chris was murdered in 1979, at 23, only a couple blocks away from where I live. I rarely walk by the Zen Center without a twinge of sadness, remembering him – a sorrow Richardson's book made even more intense.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jonas

    Not the greatest book I ever read, definitely took advantage of ZAMM hype to publicize a mediocre road trip retracing Pirsig's steps. Read ZAMM and save yourself the trouble of reading this one. Though I learned a few things about Robert Pirsig's life that I didn't know before and discovered that I had misunderstood the phaedrus character entirely. Not the greatest book I ever read, definitely took advantage of ZAMM hype to publicize a mediocre road trip retracing Pirsig's steps. Read ZAMM and save yourself the trouble of reading this one. Though I learned a few things about Robert Pirsig's life that I didn't know before and discovered that I had misunderstood the phaedrus character entirely.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erik Beyer

    Would you listen to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again? Why? Yes, I would listen again. I may take a listen to the dramatized version to provide a greater audible depth into the story. The story of father and son I was able to follow, and even at times made me sad. The philosophical elements of the book went pretty deep at times, and that would be my purpose for reading (listening) again. I don't know if I necessarily got any real value from this book, but rather it has inspired me i Would you listen to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again? Why? Yes, I would listen again. I may take a listen to the dramatized version to provide a greater audible depth into the story. The story of father and son I was able to follow, and even at times made me sad. The philosophical elements of the book went pretty deep at times, and that would be my purpose for reading (listening) again. I don't know if I necessarily got any real value from this book, but rather it has inspired me into deeper thought and personal study. Maybe that is the intent of the book. In the last chapter of the audio book, it takes place 10-years after the release of the book and provides deeper insight to their life after the story. I would listen to that chapter again, by itself. What other book might you compare Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to and why? I don't know that I could. I haven't read or listened to many books in my life. This one is so unique. I do wish I could find more like it, though. I have always liked the personal journey type stories. Have you listened to any of Michael Kramer’s other performances before? How does this one compare? I don't believe so. He did well, but it is noticeable and older recording taken from cassette. His voice can be droning at times, but after you get used to it and put that voice the main characters image in your mind, it works. Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry? At times I chuckled, and times I felt a little emotional. Didn't actually cry. Any additional comments? This was taken from a cassette recording, so you can hear the other side of the tape in reverse, just enough to notice, but not enough to be annoying. This would be worth redoing at some point, unabridged, dramatized a little. It could draw a younger audience to the book. Great story, though.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Johnsergeant

    Narrated by Buck Schirner Unabridged: 9 hrs and 58 mins Publisher's Summary In 1968, Robert Pirsig and his son, Chris, made the cross-country motorcycle trip that was the basis for Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that has inspired generations with its searching personal and philosophical narrative. After rereading the book at the onset of middle age, reporter Mark Richardson tuned up his old Suzuki dirt bike and became a "Pirsig Pilgrim", one of the legions of fans who regularly re Narrated by Buck Schirner Unabridged: 9 hrs and 58 mins Publisher's Summary In 1968, Robert Pirsig and his son, Chris, made the cross-country motorcycle trip that was the basis for Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that has inspired generations with its searching personal and philosophical narrative. After rereading the book at the onset of middle age, reporter Mark Richardson tuned up his old Suzuki dirt bike and became a "Pirsig Pilgrim", one of the legions of fans who regularly retrace the author's route from Minneapolis to San Francisco. Richardson, like Pirsig before him, traveled the lonely roads of the American West, where he encountered many of the same people and places that inspired Pirsig. Richardson also corresponded with the reclusive author and his legendary editor, James Landis, and uncovered new details about Pirsig's mental illness, his unhappy celebrity, and his struggle to put his life together after the brutal murder of his son in 1979. Published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Pirsig's trip, Zen and Now is an intellectual adventure, a meditation on the values of a classic book, and an inquiry into its relevance to the complex and bewildering world we inhabit today.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mike Smith

    This is a first-person account of a journalist who follows in Robert Pirsig's... well not footsteps, tire marks I suppose. Pirsig is the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a partly fictional account of Pirsig's motorcycle trip across the U.S. with his teenage son. The main thrust of the original book was Pirsig's assertion that Quality (with a capital "Q") was at the heart of the meaning of life. In short, if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well. Richardson, the new author This is a first-person account of a journalist who follows in Robert Pirsig's... well not footsteps, tire marks I suppose. Pirsig is the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a partly fictional account of Pirsig's motorcycle trip across the U.S. with his teenage son. The main thrust of the original book was Pirsig's assertion that Quality (with a capital "Q") was at the heart of the meaning of life. In short, if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well. Richardson, the new author, recounts his own journey, and along the way explains how Pirsig came to write his book and what happened to him after it was published. For much of the trip, Richardson is a bit out of sorts. He likes the idea of Quality, but something seems to be missing. In the end, Richardson realizes there's something more important than Quality, and it appears that Pirsig found that out, too, in his post-Zen life. Richardson is very honest about his experiences and feelings during the rather solitary adventure, and I think his conclusions are valid. I just don't think you need to ride thousands of miles to figure it out. Still, an easy, entertaining read, although it will undoubtedly help if you've read Pirsig.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gary Lang

    This book is the sort of rumination on popular culture artifacts with a recent (<=30 years) history that is enormously popular right now with boomers. It's an easy read. When you are done you won't be sure why you read it, but it's nice to hear how other people were inspired/affected by ZMM. I think most people who have read this book in the past are not as inspired as they were about it, so it's interesting that it's held his interest this intensely and to hear what he concludes from holding on This book is the sort of rumination on popular culture artifacts with a recent (<=30 years) history that is enormously popular right now with boomers. It's an easy read. When you are done you won't be sure why you read it, but it's nice to hear how other people were inspired/affected by ZMM. I think most people who have read this book in the past are not as inspired as they were about it, so it's interesting that it's held his interest this intensely and to hear what he concludes from holding onto this interest over the years. He's definitely a Pirsig fan-boy, which is a good and bad thing, making for an interesting read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    Mark Richardson retraces Robert Pirsig historic trek in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" to discover for himself the meaning of life. I read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" about five years ago and was mesmerized by the idea of Quality and how it pertains to life. I was also confused by the characters and their relationships. This book explained to me the relationships but left out most of the Philosophy which is the weakness of this book. Mark Richardson retraces Robert Pirsig historic trek in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" to discover for himself the meaning of life. I read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" about five years ago and was mesmerized by the idea of Quality and how it pertains to life. I was also confused by the characters and their relationships. This book explained to me the relationships but left out most of the Philosophy which is the weakness of this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Don

    Ordinarily I would not find a book about motorcycling and long distance travels very interesting, but from the moment I took this volume off the library shelf and started leafing through it I started getting deja vu experinces. I had read Pirsig's book back in the 70's sometime in conjunction with some humanities studies at the University of Minnesota that also mentioned the Erl King poem by Goethe. I had not followed up this initial enjoyment of the original book, and had no sense that it was i Ordinarily I would not find a book about motorcycling and long distance travels very interesting, but from the moment I took this volume off the library shelf and started leafing through it I started getting deja vu experinces. I had read Pirsig's book back in the 70's sometime in conjunction with some humanities studies at the University of Minnesota that also mentioned the Erl King poem by Goethe. I had not followed up this initial enjoyment of the original book, and had no sense that it was important to do so. Pirsig's book was a classic, but it had long ago ceased to be relevant to my life experiences, which had moved past that period in my life. At that time I recall also having read and enjoying Christian Zen: A Way of Meditation By William Johnston and Reflections from the North Country by Sigurd Olson. I was also busy writing the haiku of despair. This grew out of my reading of Hyatt Waggoner's informative study, American Poets: From the Puritans to the Present, where I learned about the American Transcendent Despair tradition. One of the haiku related to an incident when I was eight years old where I suffered a broken nose on the playground at school: Cross-eyed invalid Bee at the end of his nose: Baseball bat stung! Of course, there was no bee. That is the first occurrence in my work of what turned out to be an ongoing symbol of the bee in a bottle, of which I eventually became free of. It is the despair that one feels that accentuates the fears that one feels about leaving your private world and attempting to enter the larger sphere of actions. That sounds very psychological, but in reality the despair was always there but subconsciously. That is how I would describe it. I knew I was different in some way, but not until later when I found out later at age 16 that my nose had been broken when I was eight years old, I finally knew exactly what that physical difference was. It became part of my consciousness or awareness. This is what enlightenment is about, as far as my reading about Zen and nature told me. That's why it all seemed to make perfect sense to me at the time. I was enlightened, but no joy bells started ringing. I needed something more, which is where going back to church comes in. Church had really been special to me in my youth. That is where I got my love for music and poetry and the Bible. This led to my own invention of Egoverbs, also during this same period. Egoverbs are proverbs in the first person, i.e.: I (verb) (something). So this period is not a mystery to me. I recall what was going on in my life as a student and a neophyte practitioner of creative literature. It was 1978 when I visited a Zen shendo near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis and did zazen. I had no idea that Pirsig was the one who got Katagari Roshi to come to town to start the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. It was there that I practiced spiritual exercises one evening, and later attended an actual Zen Buddhism service on a lovely spring day. It was fun to listen to the robed persons chanting Ooooooom in the lotus position on a rug, but this did not help me to find that for which I had prepared and come looking for, that I later understood as the search for a deeper Christianity. I had dokusan with Katagari sometime afterward where he advised me to let go of the psychical experiences I told him about. I felt that God was attempting to speak to me through them. I didn't go back to the Center again after receiving the spiritual counseling. There no longer seemed to be a purpose for doing so. I eventually went back to my childhood Baptist church early in 1979 (Jan. 14th, the day of a superbowl) after I finished my studies. Nothing seemed to happen right away, so I quit attending the church at some point. About 40 days later, I experienced another strange bee sting event while delivering community newspapers on March 19th. This seemed like God urging me to give it one more try. Instead of just going to the morning service, I decided to go to a Sunday school class with persons of my own age. It became obvious to me then that I had to make some contacts to overcome my shyness. Just warming a pew wasn't going to be of any use. Once again nothing seemed to happen. I felt the despair flooding my soul again, but then I met this pretty Swedish girl in the library afterwards and she was of a very encouraging nature. She promised to help me overcome my shyness that I found myself confessing to her and I knew that she would keep her promise because of her wonderful spirit. The next day I felt like I was in love, but by Tuesday's arrival I realized that it was just an infatuation. On Wednesday I found myself composing in my head an inspired song called I'll Be There When the Morning Comes about this experience which began with the words: People keep on hiding, never seeking, never finding; Blind men keep on running, never see the future coming, It will be there in the morning when it comes. And the chorus: I will be there in the morning when it comes I will stand there amidst the chosen ones I will be there in the morning when it comes Yes, I'll be there, yes, I'll be there On Thursday it had turned into a fantastical or fanatical conceit. This was the moment when I told God that I didn't want to be told whom to be in love with and that I preferred to do my own choosing of whom to date. That emotion was so sudden and strong that I felt the violence of a sword passing through my brain. It immediately went completely numb. I prayed to God to have my feelings restored, and eventually normalcy came back but I also felt a hot liquid dripping at the back of my skull after this, without cessation. That Sunday I returned to the library in the hopes of seeing the same girl again and inform her of the pain in my head that had occurred during the week and that I had no notion of how to make stop burning, but she didn't come that time. It happened to be April Fool's Day, and a special service later that evening had been announced with the theme of Christmas in April to celebrate some missionaries who were being commissioned to go to Ecuador as medics. I debated whether I should go back to church while in my abject state, but finally I pushed myself away from the dinner table, saying goodbye to my stay at home parents, and began the long trek back to the church, still not certain that I even wanted to be there. At the half way point, a chemical reaction happened in my brain and I felt like I was walking on a cloud for the remainder of my walk. It felt better than anythng I have ever felt before. When I got to church, everyone was singing Christmas songs and I knew all the words. I felt ecstatic and the pain was gone. The girl I met in the library came up to me and told me she was moving from her parent's in Stillwater to the vacated house of the missionaries while they were away. There she would live with two other girls from my Sunday school class and that they would soon be starting up a cell group of other people of our age group. I actually helped this girl move her things. Everything changed then. At age 27, I first had a real hope that my life was going to change in some important ways. I also got some counseling with a church psychiatist who set me up with the State Dept. of Vocational Rehabitation (DVR) for job placement. I was put on a waiting list to go to the Multi-Resource Center (MRC) to take aptitude tests and make decisions on occupational goals. It finally came down to a choice between getting training to become a janitor or a key punch operator. I choose the latter, but upon completion of the program finding work was hard to do. The market was already flush with key punch operators and I started to wish I had applied for janitor training. There was a residence for the handicapped that was located near the church which I knew about but never considered myself as a suitable candidate to work there. Then God put this guy at the bus stop that I started having a conversation with about his special shoes. That's when I got inspired to apply at the residence. First they offered me a janitor job, but I told them I would prefer to work with the residents, helping them on the late shift. I put about 6 to bed, and then got the same 6 up and dressed in the morning before leaving. In between there was time for reading or writing. For this initial experience, I eventually ended up finding work as a PCA (personal care attendant), helping people with cerebral palsy in their own homes, a special program of the state that I was one of the first persons to be grandfathered into, as they called it. This job lasted for the next 12 years, and sometime later I actually became a janitor for a church by my apartment. This wasn't as bad as I had imagined it would be. I got to practically live at the church, get free eats from events that I was scheduled to work, and take part in a lot of church activities. It felt very special. Simultaneously, I also did temporary data entry jobs during these times. My first data entry position was with the City Water Dept in billing, where I typed all the quarterly and monthly meter readings. At a later time I worked for the Minnesota Press Club as a general office assistant where I met Paul Wellstone in person. For four years I became the main typist for PR Newswire Sports Score covering seasonal (fall and winter) high school sports, sending my scores, schedules, stats, and weekly standing via satellite to New York (AP) to be bounced back to local and out state media. All these jobs really built up my confidence in my abilities. And there were many other data entry jobs that I did that I don't have time to mention here. I'm not sure what would have happened to me if I had not listened to the spirit of God and never got the chance to do the church thing one more time. I probably would have ended up in a nut house. It certainly wasn't an easy transition in the beginning. One of the side effects of engineering a coming out for myself was having the physical shakes in public. I would experience them for about 20 minutes while attending a church service, but gradually they became less and less until those too permanently went away and I became wholly comfortable while interacting with others in public. I had made it through my trials and people were so nice to me in the process. I felt the love of Christ enfolding me within my pain and sadness. My differences with the world seemed smaller, less inhibiting to me and with less cause to be concerned about. Other people had hurts too, I was discovering. I wasn't alone. In initially glancing through this book, I learned that Chris Pirsig was murdered outside the Zen Center in San Francisco in November 1979. I came to realize that Robert, the local author who was his father, had a connection with Katagiri in the starting up of the MZMC in Minneapolis, but it wasn't until I reached page 168 that I learned that the Greek word for virtue is arete. I had called the period in 1978 "Virtue", but didn't clearly see the philosophical connotations. But that is basically what I was doing, learning about philosophy as I was also studying Art, Religion and Science. Those were the 4 things I was deeply interested at the time. But in the process I nurtured a greater appreciation for my love of mathematics. I now study the book of Genesis and find ways to make sense of the numbers, especially in regard to the Great Flood period. It never ceases to amaze me all the discoveries I've made in this regard in the past 4 years. Every day gives me another problem to solve. I consider myself a Christian Humanist now, and my special fields are the epics of Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton, for which I have gained many insights over the years, and continue to evolve new insights on. I don't know if everyone would like this book by Richardson, but I found it very soothing and relaxing, tying together the past with the future, and making understanding things that I had forgot I knew very approachable again. I think I would read this author again. His theme is a lot bigger than truth and seeming, with a broad spectrum of life presented, all of it worth studying and learning from! Three books of Katagiri Roshi's teachings are available through bookstores: Returning to Silence: Zen Practice in Daily Life, edited by Yuko Conniff and Willa Hathaway. Boston: Shambhala, 1988. You Have to Say Something: Manifesting Zen Insight, edited by Steve Hagen. Boston: Shambhala, 1998. Each Moment Is the Universe: Zen and the Way of Being Time, edited by Andrea Martin. Boston: Shambhala, 2007.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Fredrickson

    This book parallels the topics and structure of the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZAOMM) book on numerous levels. It is a combination of history, spiritual memoir and travelogue, and it works on these planes, though not as well as the original. The author traces the route that Pirsig traveled on his motorcycle with as much fidelity as could be done. He clearly had researched the book and the author to an immense degree. During his replication of the original trip, the author meets a This book parallels the topics and structure of the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZAOMM) book on numerous levels. It is a combination of history, spiritual memoir and travelogue, and it works on these planes, though not as well as the original. The author traces the route that Pirsig traveled on his motorcycle with as much fidelity as could be done. He clearly had researched the book and the author to an immense degree. During his replication of the original trip, the author meets and stays with people from the ZAOMM book along the way (he also attempted to interview Pirsig , but Pirsig refused). Discussions with the original ZAOMM characters adds to one's understanding of ZAOMM. The style of this book is quite similar to ZAOMM in that the author intersperses commentary of the trip and the landscape with attention paid to the running of the motorcycle and problems that arise in its performance and integrity. This running commentary does not work as well as in the original ZAOMM, since Pirsig uses the motorcycle as a springboard to discuss philosophy - this book does discuss Zen and philosophy along the way, but it does so in a more tangential fashion. Another parallel in the two books is in the spiritual memoir arena. The author is clearly thinking through relationship issues with his kids and wife (as he drives away from them), but these issues do not feel like they have the force in them that Pirsig had with his son, and this 'parallel' feels unconvincing. I enjoyed this book, though it felt somewhat forced at times. One interesting takeaway for me is that it may be time to give Lila another chance at a re-read. The author discusses the Lila book a couple of times during his trip, and has made me wonder whether there is more to that book than I perceived when I read it a long time ago. One caveat for readers pondering whether to read this book is that while ZAOMM reads as a realistic personal biography, this book explores where the elements of fiction come in. Having read this book, the reader will have a transformed understanding of the original work itself as well as of Pirsig.

  12. 5 out of 5

    AJW

    This was an enjoyable read for a number of reasons. Firstly, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of my all-time favourite books. Very few people I know share my enthusiasm for Robert Pirsig’s philosophical book so it’s nice to spend time riding pillion with somebody who shares my enthusiasm for the book. Secondly, I started riding a motorbike for the first time in my life last month. Now all the bits about engines, clutches, checking oil levels and different road conditions roar into This was an enjoyable read for a number of reasons. Firstly, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of my all-time favourite books. Very few people I know share my enthusiasm for Robert Pirsig’s philosophical book so it’s nice to spend time riding pillion with somebody who shares my enthusiasm for the book. Secondly, I started riding a motorbike for the first time in my life last month. Now all the bits about engines, clutches, checking oil levels and different road conditions roar into life for me. Thirdly, for decades now I’ve wanted fly to the United States for a vacation and ride along the route taken by the Pirsigs. But as the years circle by like a mileometer (or odometer) I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to find the money or the time to do this dream trip. This book gives me the next best version. It was great to be able to trace the route more accurately using the place names and road numbers provided in this book. Fourthly, there’s lots of biographical details about Robert Pirsig, his family and friends. Some details I already knew from the 25th Anniversary edition, but plenty I didn’t know. All in all, a very satisfying read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Huston

    I's a sucker for stuff like this--celebrations of books and midlife crisis memoirs. This one is pretty strong in both departments! It often reminded me of the essays of Charles Kurault, who traveled and spotlighted the people he met. Richardson does the same, and those encounters play heavily into the value he gets from his trip. The lessons he gets are a bit artificial--so much so that I wonder how much of it (the strained family relationships and ultimate reconnecting with them) are baloney. He I's a sucker for stuff like this--celebrations of books and midlife crisis memoirs. This one is pretty strong in both departments! It often reminded me of the essays of Charles Kurault, who traveled and spotlighted the people he met. Richardson does the same, and those encounters play heavily into the value he gets from his trip. The lessons he gets are a bit artificial--so much so that I wonder how much of it (the strained family relationships and ultimate reconnecting with them) are baloney. He brings up how much Pirsig embellished the emotional elements of his original book, and it's not hard to imagine Richardson doing the same. Richardson even tries to shoehorn in a motif based on an eagle, and it really doesn't work. But I'm still giving the book five stars! I read it with excitement and appreciation. It's solid and thoughtful and important, if taken at face value. I really appreciated how much depth this added to my understanding of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the book and the real life history behind it. I need to go back and read that again. And now I want to read Pirsig's sequel Lila, too!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brian Shell

    While I enjoyed this re-creation of the Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance pilgrimage, I'd hoped it would have been more of a philosophical in its depth. Yet, if you're a ZAMM fan like I am, you'll like it. I do. My favorite thing about this novel is that its author (a journalist) reports on what happened to the actual life of ZAMM's author (Robert Pirsig). I found that reporting to be fascinating. I read "Zen and Now" years ago (in 2009 and 2014) and have been re-reading it recently in 202 While I enjoyed this re-creation of the Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance pilgrimage, I'd hoped it would have been more of a philosophical in its depth. Yet, if you're a ZAMM fan like I am, you'll like it. I do. My favorite thing about this novel is that its author (a journalist) reports on what happened to the actual life of ZAMM's author (Robert Pirsig). I found that reporting to be fascinating. I read "Zen and Now" years ago (in 2009 and 2014) and have been re-reading it recently in 2021 due to taking a cross-country roadtrip... where I became a ghost to my past ghosts. Thus, it's perfect reading to re-live my time on the road giving gratitude in 2014 to past mentors for my book "Gratitude Miles - 8000 Miles of Gratitude."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gary Boyd

    Bland and boring. I liked neither style nor content. Tended to focus on Pirsig’s route, stops, and people associated with Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which I was expecting), but lacked any philosophical insights or discussions on Quality that was the earmark of Pirsig’s journey (which I understood was supposed to be part of the book). Got through enough of it to pan it...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Dunn

    An engaging travelogue that takes you on a journey following in the footsteps, or tyre tracks, of Persig's original journey in ZAMM. The content centers on Richardson's experiences as a so called "Persig pilgrim" and includes many interesting autobiographical information on Persig. Recommended for any fan of ZAMM. An engaging travelogue that takes you on a journey following in the footsteps, or tyre tracks, of Persig's original journey in ZAMM. The content centers on Richardson's experiences as a so called "Persig pilgrim" and includes many interesting autobiographical information on Persig. Recommended for any fan of ZAMM.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Garn

    I really enjoyed this. Gave a lot of interesting context to one of my favorite books.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jay Brara

    A review of the classic journey and reflections. Skimmed it, nowhere near as engaging and philosophical as the classic.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vince Darcangelo

    This review originally appeared in the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news... http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news... Zen . . . and now It's been more than 30 years since Zen took the world by storm. Need a refresher? Critic Vince Darcangelo assesses the original and the update. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values * By Robert Pirsig. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, $16.95. Grade: A The story line: In 1968, Pirsig, a former professor and journalis This review originally appeared in the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news... http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news... Zen . . . and now It's been more than 30 years since Zen took the world by storm. Need a refresher? Critic Vince Darcangelo assesses the original and the update. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values * By Robert Pirsig. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, $16.95. Grade: A The story line: In 1968, Pirsig, a former professor and journalist with a history of mental illness, took his 11-year-old son, Chris, on a motorcycle trip from the Twin Cities to San Francisco. Joined by friends John and Sylvia Sutherland, Pirsig used the trip as a launching pad for his philosophical exploration into the nature of quality. The book worked on three levels: It recollected the road trip itself, a journey in which Pirsig and his son worked to overcome a strained relationship; it detailed Pirsig's struggle with mental illness, which involved electroshock therapy and the "death" of the author's alter ego, Phaedrus (a reference to the 1st-century Roman fabulist); and it served as a platform for Pirsig's philosophy, including his observation that technology had isolated people from their natural environment and each other. Where the characters left off: The Sutherlands: As the trip concludes, the Sutherlands, whom Pirsig set up to symbolize modern culture, are long gone, having turned back nine days into the 17-day jaunt, as their vacation had come to an end. Chris: Is warming to his father, but showing signs of his own impending mental illness. Pirsig: Is optimistic, feeling a communicative breakthrough with his son. He declares, "We've won it. It's going to get better now. You can sort of tell these things." Final word: Intellectually deep and emotionally haunting, this richly textured book earned its status as an American classic with its thoughtful life lessons and poignant tale of fathers and sons Zen and Now: On the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance * By Mark Richardson. Knopf, $25. Grade: A The story line: In 2004, Toronto Star journalist Richardson hopped on his motorcycle and, with his 42nd birthday approaching, retraced Pirsig's route. Richardson traveled alone, but like Pirsig he was going through some family difficulties. He suffered no mental illness but faced many roadblocks along the way, including a malfunctioning bike, marital issues and an evening of bad behavior with a motel clerk named Lacey. Like its inspiration, Zen and Now functions on three levels: It documents Richardson's route, which is mostly faithful to the original, including a treacherous jaunt over Wyoming's Beartooth Pass; it summarizes Motorcycle Maintenance through the landmarks Richardson encounters (whenever possible he visits the same restaurants, hotels and campsites as Pirsig); and finally, Richardson delves deeper into the life of Pirsig and key characters from the book . Where the characters are now: The Sutherlands: Have separated. Sylvia won't discuss the book with Richardson, but according to her husband, she didn't like how they were portrayed in the original Zen. John is more willing to talk about the old days, recalling the parties thrown at Pirsig's old house and the struggles Chris endured. Chris: Eventually succumbed to the same mental illness as his father and led a troubled life that involved physical violence against his mother and brother, Ted. Amazingly, Chris had, for the most part, turned his life around in 1979 - only to be murdered while being mugged at knifepoint on a San Francisco street. Pirsig: Didn't find the happiness he had hoped for. Separated from his wife, he lives reclusively in New England. Pirsig is estranged from his other son, Ted. The author, who declined a meeting with Richardson but read the manuscript before it was published, has penned one other book, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. Richardson: In a more upbeat ending than Pirsig's, Richardson is back on good terms with his wife and two sons, and his life honestly echoes Pirsig's own words: "We've won it. It's going to get better now." Final word: Richardson's strong narrative thread results in a page-turner that does right by the original. Zen and Now is sure to inspire a new generation of riders and readers to pick up Pirsig's book and take to the open road in search of quality.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paul Riches

    Zen and Now: Revisiting Pirsig In 1968 Robert Pirsig set out on a motorcycle trip with his son and writes a book about it. In 2004 Mark Richardson set out on a motorcycle trip retracing Pirsig’s journey and writes a book about it. The first book is the classic bestseller Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a tale that has achieved cult status with its ideological impact and lasting effect on the majority of its readers. Pirsig brings us a journey where he and his young son Chris embark on a Zen and Now: Revisiting Pirsig In 1968 Robert Pirsig set out on a motorcycle trip with his son and writes a book about it. In 2004 Mark Richardson set out on a motorcycle trip retracing Pirsig’s journey and writes a book about it. The first book is the classic bestseller Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a tale that has achieved cult status with its ideological impact and lasting effect on the majority of its readers. Pirsig brings us a journey where he and his young son Chris embark on a lengthy motorcycle trip. Part of this story is Pirsig trying to reconnect with his son, another part is Pirsig attempting to rebuild his past memories partially obliterated by electro-shock, and another part is Pirsig expounding on his philosophical musings on Quality. All this in a book that openly admits it may not be entirely factual on the events, the zen, or the maintenance. But even with these caveats, Pirsig still created an instant cultural touchstone when it was published in 1974. Very swiftly after premiering, Pirsig became an instant celebrity in bookish and intellectual circles, with the added byproduct of groupies stopping by his house before embarking on their own version of following his trail. Flashforward to 2004 and Pirsig is divorced from his first wife and now remarried and the father of a twenty-something. A boat trip led to an extended stay in Europe and along the way the sequel book Lila came out. That volume filled with even more philosophy did not fare as well with the critics. Into all this history and drama and travelogue and thinking comes Toronto Star journalist Mark Richardson. Being a huge fan of the book and all things Pirsig, and knowing a metric ton about motorcycles and their maintenance, and also facing several philosophical conundrums as well, Richardson sets out on multiple missions, just like Pirsig. Richardson, with the help of a trusty GPS, follows the route of Pirsig and immediately notices the uncanny accuracy of the man. Trees, motels, auto shops, and a million other details big and small that still exist all these decades later are revisited by Richardson. And along the way, people who Pirsig had talked/dealt with/is friends with became interview subjects for Richardson, who uses these opportunities to bring a fuller picture of Pirsig and the Zen book into focus. His other mission, interspersed throughout the narrative, is Richardson sharing biographical details about Pirsig, his family, and the eventually fall out from the original book. The author has had lengthy correspondences with many of the principal players from back then, and shows how the alleged enlightened life of Pirsig was far from perfect, before and after the Zen book. Quite often, my great fannish love of Zen and the Art is tested by the horrible behaviour Pirsig subjected his family to. The third mission of Richardson is the true journey of working on himself. He is on this trip, with his wife and children away elsewhere, and counting down to his forty second birthday, all while trying to evaluate his life. Richardson very much gives off the impression that is not a happy man with many parts of his life, including his impatience with his young children. The evolution of this part of his quest, refinding love of family, is at times heartbreaking and often frustrating, but being the hopeless romantic that I am, my hope lives on for them all. With these three strands being juggled by Richardson, I get the definite sense he is striving to emulate the book he is following. Partly literary device, partly tribute to Pirsig, Richardson does an admirable job with this aspect. Not all the time, but his occasional dip into the Pirsig pool is alright, even comforting. At the end of Zen and Now, Richardson provides an update on the people, Zen related or not, who he brushed against in his motorcycle trip. This coda provides an interesting continuation of this new unique Richardson/Pirsig journey. All fans of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig should read and experience Zen and Now by Mark Richardson. It would be the Zen thing to do.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eric Wright

    Richardson, editor of the Wheels section of the Toronto Star, sets out to follow the route Robert Pirsig and his 11 year old son took from Minneapolis to San Francisco. Pirsig's original, "Zen and the Art of motorcyle Maintenance" was a best seller that established a cult following. The book early impressed Richardson, who now, after re-reading it investigates what happened to Pirsig then sets out to retrace his steps on his own old Suzuki dirt bike. This new book was published on the 40th anniv Richardson, editor of the Wheels section of the Toronto Star, sets out to follow the route Robert Pirsig and his 11 year old son took from Minneapolis to San Francisco. Pirsig's original, "Zen and the Art of motorcyle Maintenance" was a best seller that established a cult following. The book early impressed Richardson, who now, after re-reading it investigates what happened to Pirsig then sets out to retrace his steps on his own old Suzuki dirt bike. This new book was published on the 40th anniversary of Pirsig's ride. The narrative is interspersed with what he learned about Pirsig, events from Pirsig's ride, the sad relationship with his son, Chris, and what happened to him as he followed the strange philosopher. As a travelogue, I found it interesting. Richardson has an easy style that includes many observations of the people he met and the places he stayed. Richardson also includes many new facts about Pirsig's family, his mental illness, the failure of his marriage, his strange relationships with the colleges where he taught and the tragic murder of his son, Chris. Since I have run into anti-social types who lived on the border between genius and madness, the book intrigued me. Truly, Pirsig was a strange man whose Zen-influenced beliefs probably contributed to his wierdness. Looking at his life through the prism of practicality, one would have to say he was a failure in all his relationships. Is that what Zen teaches? Give me the teaching of the Nazarene any time. In trying to explain the message of Pirsig's book, Richardson summarizes it in a truism: if a job's worth doing, it is worth doing well...includng the repair of a motorcylce. Pirsig lamented the deterioration of standards which have been strained by the pressure to mass produce stuff for our throw-away culture. Lack of time to do something well is a huge problem. We see the decline of craftsmanship, of expertise in repairs...gone because new items can be purchased cheap from China. Pirsig felt that it comes down to "the scientific, which he called the Classical, and the artistic, which he also called the Romantic. These are opposites that we need, the light and the dark, the yin and the yang...we need proper balance." I would comment that we need a balance between the technological, the work related, the time driven and the artistic, meditative, relaxing side of ourselves/our lives. So Pirsig's message is to slow down, "the real cycle you are working on is yourself. Attain peace of mind."(p. 145) Pirsig continually searched for the right balance, and the enthronement of Quality. That he failed in every area, seems to me to show the failure of Zen and of those who pursue it. But his thoughts do point out the failure also of our western society to achieve balance and peace and relational harmony. Zen, peace, quality, failure, insanity, travelogue

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Part Robert Pirsig biography and part motorcycle road trip, Mark Richardson’s book recounts the hardships of long distance motorcycle travel as he retraces Pirsig’s 1968 journey from Minneapolis to San Francisco, the basis for Pirsig’s semi-autobiographical Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Pirsig refused to be interviewed for the book, but he was apparently quite cordial with the author. And Richardson has interviewed nearly everyone else involved in Zen, however peripherally, so this i Part Robert Pirsig biography and part motorcycle road trip, Mark Richardson’s book recounts the hardships of long distance motorcycle travel as he retraces Pirsig’s 1968 journey from Minneapolis to San Francisco, the basis for Pirsig’s semi-autobiographical Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Pirsig refused to be interviewed for the book, but he was apparently quite cordial with the author. And Richardson has interviewed nearly everyone else involved in Zen, however peripherally, so this is possibly the most complete and unbiased account you will find. I read Zen years ago and I remember it as a bit of a slog, so I appreciated Richardson’s guided tour of the book’s key events and ideas. Certainly the most fascinating aspect of the book, though, is Richardson’s account of the true story at the edges of Zen. I was surprised to learn that many elements of the book are in fact fictional constructs. Richardson discusses the origins of Phaedrus (the narrator’s alter-ego, the narrator as he was before shock therapy) and Pirsig’s rather unfair characterization of his son as well as others. Chris Pirsig, both the boy in Zen and Pirsig’s real life son, is the center of Richardson’s biography. After Zen became wildly popular, it was difficult for Chris to live down the image of himself as the whiny kid on the back of the motorcycle. Chris’ story is heart-wrenching—his struggles with his prickly father and with drug addiction—but considerably more so because of what happened afterwards. In 1979, as Chris was finally getting his life on track, he was stabbed to death outside a Zen meditation center in San Francisco, apparently a mugging gone wrong. Chris’ death is a tragic epilogue to Zen, but as all great books must, Robert Pirsig’s story and Richardson’s book end on notes of redemption and hope.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul Aslanian

    Many folks of my generation thought it was cool to try to read Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance--I recall really getting twisted up when Pirsig would go off for 40 pages on "what is quality?" But, I still told people I liked the book because it was cool. Pirsig spoke at Macalester. (he lived about 1/2 mile away from Mac) Well, Mark Richardson, is one of many people who are Pirsig groupies. He seems to even know what time of the day Pirsig goes number two. I liked this book becau Many folks of my generation thought it was cool to try to read Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance--I recall really getting twisted up when Pirsig would go off for 40 pages on "what is quality?" But, I still told people I liked the book because it was cool. Pirsig spoke at Macalester. (he lived about 1/2 mile away from Mac) Well, Mark Richardson, is one of many people who are Pirsig groupies. He seems to even know what time of the day Pirsig goes number two. I liked this book because as you read Mark's retracing of Pirsig's epic motorcycle trip which he took with his son who was about 12 at the time--later he was murdered on the streets of San Francisco--you begin to understand just who this Pirsig guy really is/was--one totally mentally ill guy. Anyway, by the time I finished Mark's book, I felt as though I really understood the original Pirsig book I struggled with at least 30 years ago. I learned a fair amount about the devastating effects of mental illness--Pirsig was, and remains in my view, one sick person. He was so mean to Chris his kid on the trip it makes you want to ring the old man's neck at times. The discription of Pirsig's married life in St Paul is haunting--sitting in one room of the house for days in his own urine and shit is, to say the least, shocking. So if any of you ever read the original, this book is like a well crafted entertaining complete Cliff Note on Pirsig's earlier work. For me is was well worth the time it took to run through it and it is, for a guy who has several cross country motorcycle trips under his belt, a good read just riding along with Mark as he retraces Pirsigs trip. The book made me wonder if there is at least one more cross country trip left in this old guy. I sure hope so. So there you have it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dale

    I have read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 2 or 3 times in the past 35 years, and feel that I know it reasonably well. So it came as a surprise to learn that others who have read and enjoyed it find such different things in it. My interest in it has always been around the discussion of quality that winds its way through the book. The rest - the insanity, the road trip, the relationship between Pirsig and his son - somehow escaped my notice as elements that might be considered central I have read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 2 or 3 times in the past 35 years, and feel that I know it reasonably well. So it came as a surprise to learn that others who have read and enjoyed it find such different things in it. My interest in it has always been around the discussion of quality that winds its way through the book. The rest - the insanity, the road trip, the relationship between Pirsig and his son - somehow escaped my notice as elements that might be considered central to understanding the book. But after reading Zen and Now I can see that many, probably most, readers do see those other elements as being by far the more important aspects of the book. The author, Mark Richarson, set out on his motorcycle to retrace the Pirsig trip from Minnesota to San Francisco. Many others have also done this, and there are websites with GPS way-points to guide the way, right down to the rest stops, cafes, and gas stations where Pirsig and company stopped on their trip. Richardson consciously adopts a narrative style and structure that mirrors the original book. It's actually a little distracting at first, because sometimes it's hard to tell when he is quoting from the original and when he is telling his own story. But pretty soon he settles into a good rhythm, cross-cutting between his own journey, the original trip, the (original) book, the ideas in the book, and Pirsig's biography. By the end, I enjoyed this book very much.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    I read this book as soon as it came out. I liked it but I like on-the-road books in general. Mark's book is a much lighter read and stands on its own as a motorcycle travel tale. He is after all, a motorhead newspaper journalist so his writing has that matter-of-fact, almost staccato feel about it. It is also very thorough, journalism. He tracks down a lot the people that appear as bit players in the original ZMM tome. If you are a ZMM detractor, you will not likely enjoy this, but I expect you w I read this book as soon as it came out. I liked it but I like on-the-road books in general. Mark's book is a much lighter read and stands on its own as a motorcycle travel tale. He is after all, a motorhead newspaper journalist so his writing has that matter-of-fact, almost staccato feel about it. It is also very thorough, journalism. He tracks down a lot the people that appear as bit players in the original ZMM tome. If you are a ZMM detractor, you will not likely enjoy this, but I expect you wouldn't even try. Those who are interested in the minutae of ZMM will enjoy. I knew about this book beforehand because Henry Gurr (ZMM website: http://ww2.usca.edu/ResearchProjects/...) told me about it and I was in correspondence with the author. This book is one of two post-ZMM books that anyone who enjoyed/puzzled/pondered the original Pirsig book. I recommend also Mark Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft: An inquiry into the value of work. I am writing a book to contribute to this family or works: Nine Lives, Two Wheels (see my authors page http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/... Readers who appreciate the ZMM family of works (Pirsig-Crawford-Richardson) will also likely appreciate Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon and the family of books it has spawned.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sooz

    author Mark Richardson is described on the jacket flap as falling under the spell of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and struggling to understand Pirsig's provocative and elusive ideas. that pretty much describes me to. i read Pirsig's book in my early twenties. sustaining myself on Vonnegut and Bradbury, i found the book a challenge to read, and a challenge to understand. but all the same it captivated me, and i kept ploughing until i made my way through. i've never had the urge to re author Mark Richardson is described on the jacket flap as falling under the spell of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and struggling to understand Pirsig's provocative and elusive ideas. that pretty much describes me to. i read Pirsig's book in my early twenties. sustaining myself on Vonnegut and Bradbury, i found the book a challenge to read, and a challenge to understand. but all the same it captivated me, and i kept ploughing until i made my way through. i've never had the urge to read it again, but i thought it might be fun to ride along with Richardson as he retraces Pirsig's route. the author follows the route made famous back in the 70's by Pirsig in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Richardson weaves his own traveloge with that of Pirsig's as well as gradually filling in Pirsig's life in the years since that he took that pilgrimage with his son so many years ago. a decent read, but unless your a fan of the original work, i doubt you'd find it very interesting.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John

    Really glad I listened to this one on audio - Buck Schirner did a terrific job as narrator; I doubt the print version would've been quite as interesting. I haven't read Pirsig's 1974 book, nor do I care to do so, as philosophy's just not my thing. Here, Richardson drops the philosophy angle (for the most part), filling in the travel narrative of his 2004 ride along Pirsig's route - he tries to follow it as exactly as possible, stopping at as many of the sites mentioned as possible - along with bi Really glad I listened to this one on audio - Buck Schirner did a terrific job as narrator; I doubt the print version would've been quite as interesting. I haven't read Pirsig's 1974 book, nor do I care to do so, as philosophy's just not my thing. Here, Richardson drops the philosophy angle (for the most part), filling in the travel narrative of his 2004 ride along Pirsig's route - he tries to follow it as exactly as possible, stopping at as many of the sites mentioned as possible - along with biographical background on Pirsig (family, friends, etc.), and occasional motorcycling "issues" encountered. I wasn't as enthusiastic about the author's reminiscences of his cycling adventures 20 years earlier, which were only tangentially related to the story; however, that's a minor personal quibble. So, the book makes a good travel narrative (of the western U. S.), as well holding appeal for motorcycle enthusiasts. Hardcore Pirsig fans are likely aware of the updated biographical information, and might be disappointed in the lack of philosophical emphasis by Richardson.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stewart

    One of my favorite books is Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," a combination of travel book (a 1968 motorcycle trip from Minneapolis to San Francisco), a journey through his previous life as a college English teacher and through several mental hospitals, and a guided tour of Western philosophy trying to discover how to live a quality life. Mark Richardson's 2008 book retraces Pirsig's geographical route, the author riding alone on a Suzuki motorcycle, and provides usef One of my favorite books is Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," a combination of travel book (a 1968 motorcycle trip from Minneapolis to San Francisco), a journey through his previous life as a college English teacher and through several mental hospitals, and a guided tour of Western philosophy trying to discover how to live a quality life. Mark Richardson's 2008 book retraces Pirsig's geographical route, the author riding alone on a Suzuki motorcycle, and provides useful information about Pirsig's life and the long time he took writing his 1974 book. (He has written only two.) Richardson interviewed people who went on the 1968 trip and others who knew him when he lived in the Twin Cities. Pirsig, who is 82, is notably reticent about giving interviews, almost as much as J.D. Salinger, so Richardson's insights are welcomed.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    I pretty much read this cover to cover during one very pleasant afternoon. While I believe that I once had, and may still have, a copy of Pirsig's book (Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) I have no coherent memory of it. Maybe I read it in the 70s! In any event, Richardson's book is much more than a fan's homage. It is a quest of his own, in search of his place in the world. Like every proper quest, it's full of interesting characters met, both real and not so real. All play a part in movi I pretty much read this cover to cover during one very pleasant afternoon. While I believe that I once had, and may still have, a copy of Pirsig's book (Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) I have no coherent memory of it. Maybe I read it in the 70s! In any event, Richardson's book is much more than a fan's homage. It is a quest of his own, in search of his place in the world. Like every proper quest, it's full of interesting characters met, both real and not so real. All play a part in moving him forward. I admit to not spending a great deal of time trying to figure out just who was Phaedrus, but I don't think that damaged my appreciation and enjoyment of the book one bit. I recommend this to others, even if you have no knowledge of the book on which this journey is based.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    I remember Zen and the Art from when I read it way back in 70s and again in the 90s. I usually skip the philosophical essays. I believe an author can communicate his philosphy with his story and the tools of his writing than by using wordy essays inserted in a novel. I learned more about his approach to life and his mental state through his attention to detail, mindfulness and careful maintenance of his bike. As life would have it, I went on to practice zen meditation and rode nothing but a moto I remember Zen and the Art from when I read it way back in 70s and again in the 90s. I usually skip the philosophical essays. I believe an author can communicate his philosphy with his story and the tools of his writing than by using wordy essays inserted in a novel. I learned more about his approach to life and his mental state through his attention to detail, mindfulness and careful maintenance of his bike. As life would have it, I went on to practice zen meditation and rode nothing but a motorcycle for 10 years (until that final, inevitable crash). I digress. This book is more like a travelogue and a reminder of some of the earler points Pirsig made. I was also glad to listen to it in audible format as I tool around on my bicycle.

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