The author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance examines life's essential issues as he recounts the journey down the Hudson River in a sailboat of his philosopher-narrator Phaedrus. Reprint.
There really isn't any other author I've encountered quite like Pirsig, and that's a good thing. On the surface this is the story of Phaedrus, a man who's written a novel - Zen and the Art, it seems - that has given him fame but also turned him into a recluse. He's traveling alone down a river in upstate New York when he ends up picking up a woman. That woman, Lila, becomes the focus of his wandering search for a more inclusive system of thinking. He calls this system the Metaphysics of Quality and it resembles a computer program in its design. The book then alternates between the story of Phaedrus and Lila (who increasingly is revealed to be mentally ill) and Phaedrus's (sometimes ingenious) musings.
Sleek, well-written, fascinating but also cold and indulgent, I'd recommend Lila to those who aren't bloody-well annoyed when a Steely Dan record comes on.
Granted, the structure of the 'story' makes it such that it is more of a doctrine on morals and values rather than a page-turning novel. But that is what makes it great. We don't have to put up with unnecessary story fluff if it were a true novel, and we also don't have to deal with dry philosophical incantations with equations and symbols etc.
This book will only really be enjoyed by those who liked the first book for its philosphical analysis, because he picks up the discussion and takes it many steps further. For those of us interested in understanding our lives and our behaviors, of why we do what we do, how we got to where we are today, and what it is each of us individually and collectively value, he offers some very amazing and compelling arguments. And he backs each of his theories up with quite rigorous logical explanations. This is one of the main reasons I enjoy his work; he doesn't just throw something esoteric idea out there and wait for someone to prove him wrong; he follows every argument up with logical analysis.
Bottom line, if you are into the philosophy of it, you will come out of each chapter of this book with a different outlook on your everyday life. You will see things in a different light, and that is what makes this book great for me. There are very few other books out there that successfully do this.
Pirsig seems to have the ability to explain nearly EVERYTHING. I agree that sometimes his conclusions are a little hasty. However, Pirsig effortlessly explains away things that I had barely registered subconsciously. His view of reality seems to make a lot of sense.
Anyway, I don't know enough about philosophy to say, but I think this book is grossly under-rated. This book is very, very important indeed. Even if it is not true it is well worth reading. I found the story itself amazing.
As you might have guessed, I'm a fan! Awesome book.