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Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road [Paperback]

Neil Peart
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 1 2002
In less than a year, Neil Peart lost both his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, and his wife, Jackie. Faced with overwhelming sadness and isolated from the world in his home on the lake, Peart was left without direction. This memoir tells of the sense of loss and directionlessness that led him on a 55,000-mile journey by motorcycle across much of North America, down through Mexico to Belize, and back again. He had needed to get away, but had not really needed a destination. His travel adventures chronicle his personal odyssey and include stories of reuniting with friends and family, grieving, thinking, and reminiscing as he rode until he encountered the miracle that allowed him to find peace.

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Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road + Far and Away: A Prize Every Time + Traveling Music: Playing Back the Soundtrack to My Life and Times
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From Amazon

This second motorcycle memoir (following 1996's The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa), from the author best known as drummer and lyricist of the legendary Canadian rock band Rush, chronicles a journey of healing. In the late-90s, Peart suffered a pair of life-changing tragedies: he lost his daughter and his wife of 20 years within a 10 month period. In the fall of 1998, in an effort to distract himself from grief and reevaluate his life, he embarked on a trip that took him across Canada and through the U.S. and Mexico. Through journal notes and letters written over the course of 55,000 miles, Peart chronicles his feelings of loss and envy, and the slow rebuilding of his life through the support of friends and family. Ghost Rider is also an alternative travel guide fuelled by the author's detailed descriptions of towns, roads, hotels, restaurants, and the people he encountered. "Moab proved to be the perfect small town, at least by the Ghost Rider's exacting criteria," he writes, "those being that a town should have a decent motel, a small museum of local history, a friendly post office, and a well-stocked liquor store." Thought-provoking and even humorous at times, Peart reveals in straight-ahead prose the emotional turmoil following such an epic loss--and we ride shotgun as he gradually acquires a renewed sense of purpose. --Eric Wilson


“Well-written, harrowing and filled with just-right touches of levity, [this book] is a necessary story about the human condition.” -- Altfresh --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Outside the house by the lake the heavy rain seemed to hold down the darkness, grudging the slow fade from black, to blue, to gray. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This road gets a little long... June 30 2004
As a long time Rush/Neil Peart fan I may not be the most objective reviewer of this book as I tore through its pages with the mindset of a fan and not as a casual reader. Being a Rush fan and a motorcyclist, I'm probably as captive a reader as any author could hope for, so perhaps I grant this book some liberties where others may feel it falls a little short.
The passing of Peart's daughter and wife starts the book on it's haunting footing as the author takes you on a two wheel ride over miles and miles of road while simultaneously allowing you to feel his pain, recount his memories, think his thoughts, and bask in his ultimate healing. All while the odometer keeps clicking away.
What is immediately striking is the author's raw emotional openness - as though his motorcycle were the couch and the reader the psychologist listening to him poor it all out. The down side of this is that in his honesty you see him as not always being the most sympathetic of characters - often he comes across being uptight, anal, and often self indulged. Rather than recounting memories of his lost loved ones, allowing his devastation to be more concrete and real for the reader he regales in story after story of past motorcycle trips with his best friend Brutus. By the end of the book you know more about Brutus than the loved ones he lost.
The beauty of this book is experiencing the world as viewed through the eyes of a well-read, thoughtful artist. He has such a poetic sensibility about the world that the sights, sounds and smells of the passing countryside take on a fresh life. Throughout the book he is searching, but never out of control - he grieves as you would expect, but not driven by his emotions - instead he rides and thinks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The road that heals could be ridden by anyone April 19 2004
Although this book can be found in the Music section in stores, it should be allowed to occupy a space in the therapeutic section as well. Not just for the Rush fan, this book could have be written by anyone whose circumstances were, unfortunately, similar to Peart's. We are allowed to travel with Peart's "little baby soul" and see how it's possible to let our hearts, bit by bit, recover from trauma.
Do not let the idea that this is a constantly depressing book, keep it from being read. It is a wonderful trip across America on a motorcycle but we never forget why the road is traveled.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Both physically and emotionally. Mr. Peart writes what must have been a most difficult book about recent tragedies he's suffered and the "healing road" he's taken to escape and embrace them. The book at times is gripping and insightful. However...he can also be hypocritical and abrasive. He longs for more open mindedness from people but those who may disagree with his point of view receives his derision. He and his band are staunch anti music trading and the illegalities of it while he financially and morally supports a non remorseful drug dealer. Placing the blame for his friend legal woes squarely on a constrictive government rather than on the man who has made the choice of pursuing this type of illicit career. But you do not have to agree with a writer nesscessarily to enjoy his writing. Mr. Peart is and engaging and concise writer. At times the book reads as a letter from a troubled friend. Admittedly aloof due to a lifetime of living in the spotlight. He finds more comfort in the words of a book than with many of the people he encounters. Those that are privy to his good nature are rewarded with lively conversation those that are not receive a cold reception unbefitting a man of his history. The book is a good read and the author capable. However, the book not only confronts the author but the reader. I found his previous book more enjoyable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only for the dedicated July 3 2004
By Jerry
As a fan of Rush and Neil Peart for 20+ years, I was hoping this book would reveal more about Neil's human side and the tragedies he faced and overcame. It did, but not the way I expected. I was about 100 pages in when I realized the book is written for Neil himself, not for the reader. The author often seems not to know or care that a reader exists and wants to understand and empathize with his journey. He logs hundreds of pages of detail of his aimless wanderings, often interspersed with his own feelings of grief, but the few real insights are fragmented without any real coherence. In fact, some of them are probably unintentional; he seems as unaware of his own disdain towards most other people he meets, as he is of the reader himself. This becomes painfully obvious in the "Letters to Brutus" section, pages upon pages of correspondence that, while surely significant to Neil and his close friends, are mostly fragmented and irrelevant to anyone else. After 450 pages of material, through which we desperately want Neil to overcome his pain, the story of his recovery is tacked on in literally a single sentence, followed by 6 pages of epilogue.
My sense is that this book was written not for the reader, but for Neil to bring closure to his own grieving process, which is understandable given the terrible tragedies that the author experienced. The reader should approach it in that context, understanding that the process of grief necessarily makes a person very focused on the self to the exclusion of almost all else.
I'd recommend the book only to dedicated fans of Neil's work, with the caveat that this particular work is really written for Neil himself. All the band members have consistently said they feel they owe their followers their best possible performance in exchange for the CD price or ticket charge; for the $20 price of this book, this is the first work I've seen by any of them that falls far short of that standard.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An Existential Escape
I ride a motorcycle, play guitar in a band and have recently suffered a significant loss. This was the perfect book for me. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stuart Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars This was purchased for a gift
I have read all of Neil Pearts books and would recommend all of them. Combinations of world travel, music and motorcycles.
Published 8 months ago by roberta fitzgerald
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant insight
In a way, I can relate to what Neil Peart has gone through. The pain of losing two loved ones is unbearable. Read more
Published 8 months ago by The Gonz
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Loved the Ghost Rider!
This book was an excellent read. It is a book about Neil Peart, his life, his struggle, his tragedies. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Natural Blues
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and Engaging Book
I enjoy travel stories but this one was more. It was deeply engaging and I could relate to the lonely road stories as I have done them over the years. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Roger R. Poirier
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, for the RUSH fan in your life!
Bought this for my hubby to read on our vacation. Couldn't put it down! I think I may read it.
Published 15 months ago by Sylvie Gilbert
2.0 out of 5 stars Ghostrider needs ghostwriter
How do we deal with the untimely death of close family members? Motorcycle road trip, alcohol, smokes, many letters with our convicted friend, and a new girlfriend/wife. Read more
Published on Aug. 3 2011 by H. Kennedy
1.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a very long Rush song
I could make my way through the first third of this book but could stand no more of it's self righteous, pointlessly thick preaching. Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars I feel the soft ground under my feet; and I am moved.
"Living in a fisheye lens, caught in the camera eye,
I have no heart to lie,
I can't pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend. Read more
Published on July 16 2004 by Simon Magus
5.0 out of 5 stars What a storyteller
As a drummer and fan of Rush, I was intrigued when I came across this book. Reading the back cover, I was intrigued to read of Neil's loss and struggle and I wanted to read his... Read more
Published on June 10 2004 by E. J. Luedtke
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