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Need for the Bike [Paperback]

Paul Fournel , Allan Stoekl
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.50
Price: CDN$ 14.24 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2003
A book like no other, Paul Fournel’s Need for the Bike conducts readers into a very personal world of communication and connection whose center is the bicycle, and where all people and things pass by way of the bike. In compact and suggestive prose, Fournel conveys the experience of cycling—from the initial charm of early outings to the dramas of the devoted cyclist.
 
An extended meditation on cycling as a practice of life, the book recalls a country doctor who will not anesthetize the young Fournel after he impales himself on a downtube shifter, speculates about the difference between animals that would like to ride bikes (dogs, for instance) and those that would prefer to watch (cows, marmots), and reflects on the fundamental absurdity of turning over the pedals mile after excruciating mile. At the same time, Fournel captures the sound, smell, feel, and language of the reality and history of cycling, in the mountains, in the city, escaping the city, in groups, alone, suffering, exhausted, exhilarated.
 
In his attention to the pleasures of cycling, to the specific “grain” of different cycling experiences, and to the inscription of these experiences in the body’s cycling memory, Fournel portrays cycling as a descriptive universe, colorful, lyrical, inclusive, exclusive, complete.

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Review

"Fournel writes with a poetic compactness and a wry, light touch about topics that make perfect sense to most cyclists...Its bite-sized chapters make it the ideal book to nibble away at." PodiumCafe.com

About the Author

Paul Fournel is a member of Oulipo, a collective of avant-garde writers whose works focus on the problems and puzzles of language. He is presently the cultural attaché at the French Embassy in Cairo. Allan Stoekl is a professor of French at Pennsylvania State University, the author and editor of a number of books, and the translator of Maurice Blanchot’s The Most High (Nebraska 1996).

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Very short stories about cycling Jan. 1 2004
Format:Paperback
I grew up biking in Canada so Fournel's perspective and unbringing into cycling is much different than my own. Here biking is often a thing that children do and a few of us stick with it. However in France they are so much more deeply steeped in cycling, the terrain, the heritage and the romanticism of the Tour, it's a way of life for many.
So this perpective was a refreshing one, I like the way the book was presented. The very short [mostly 2 page] stories were so easily digestable that you fly through 'em. Some of the references to specific climbs and racers were lost on me. But there are many points where a serious biker can relate to some of the romanticisms, physiological & behavioral elements, and odd life choices.
It wasn't the greatest book I've picked up but I enjoyed it. He's apparently quite the creative authour, I'm not sure if some of this creativity was lost on me or through the translation. The writing style didn't really blow my socks off.
In the end it was like having a string of stories told to you by a parisienne cycliste over a baguette and cheese after you went for a ride in the Alps. If that appeals to you, check it out.
happy trails
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Prose Poem About Cycling Oct. 7 2003
Format:Paperback
If you have an ear for poetry and a love for the bicycle, then this 150-page gem will earn your respect. Fournel is a writer's writer with a taste for going fast on a classic road bike (handmade steel frame and Campagnolo components). He "needs" his bike in order to overcome a mild tendency towards depression. (Sound familiar?)
Out of this endorphin rush comes a subtle taste for everything from the variety of hills that we need to climb to the texture of the roads that we ride to our childhood memories. Winds, companionship, competition, beauty, class, smells, sounds, food & drink and dope are all touched upon. If you're a cyclist it will deepen your ability to experience and express what you already love about the sport. If you're not a cyclist, then you can transfer his "need for the bike" to your own obsession. A true Pleasure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Biking to Oulipo Oct. 10 2003
Format:Paperback
This book is a little gem. Good writing about bikes, cycling, the Tour de France, racing, growing up in Loire, riding in Paris, etc. I can't recommend it highly enough. It is published by University of Nebraska Press (Bison Books) - they along with publishing western lit and history also publish a number of French lit books. Paul Fournel is a member of Oulipo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) along with other writers such as Raymond Queneau, Harry Mathews, George Perec, and Italo Calvino.
A good writer and a good publisher. The translation flows along nicely and although I can not attest to the accuracy (not being able to read French), I thought it quite good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Different Tour of France March 5 2004
Format:Paperback
Paul Fournel's book is a series of short vignettes, all of which are concerned with the inner life of bicyclists. And the evidence is in: They definitely have one. No matter how much or little you indulge in biking, his book will convey to you, in short and vivid strokes, the splendors and miseries of this sport (starting with the miseries; i.e., accidents). Along the route, fathers and sons, Paris and the provinces, labor and leisure--all the life tensions emerge, only to be inflected by the pastime's particular wisdom. Almost better than biking!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Prose Poem About Cycling Oct. 7 2003
By Matthew Morse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you have an ear for poetry and a love for the bicycle, then this 150-page gem will earn your respect. Fournel is a writer's writer with a taste for going fast on a classic road bike (handmade steel frame and Campagnolo components). He "needs" his bike in order to overcome a mild tendency towards depression. (Sound familiar?)
Out of this endorphin rush comes a subtle taste for everything from the variety of hills that we need to climb to the texture of the roads that we ride to our childhood memories. Winds, companionship, competition, beauty, class, smells, sounds, food & drink and dope are all touched upon. If you're a cyclist it will deepen your ability to experience and express what you already love about the sport. If you're not a cyclist, then you can transfer his "need for the bike" to your own obsession. A true Pleasure.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Different Tour of France March 5 2004
By Mark E. Conroy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Paul Fournel's book is a series of short vignettes, all of which are concerned with the inner life of bicyclists. And the evidence is in: They definitely have one. No matter how much or little you indulge in biking, his book will convey to you, in short and vivid strokes, the splendors and miseries of this sport (starting with the miseries; i.e., accidents). Along the route, fathers and sons, Paris and the provinces, labor and leisure--all the life tensions emerge, only to be inflected by the pastime's particular wisdom. Almost better than biking!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a bike thing, but maybe you'll understand Aug. 4 2004
By K. Bickel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Fournel takes Hemmingway, puts him on a bike, and implants a French sensibility. The words a spare, the pieces short, but each is a declarative taste of life on two wheels, including the times your mind wanders from the road and into the passing scenery. You'll drown in the tar, greet the car door, and meet the man with the hammer. If you love to ride, you have to have this book. If you could care less about bicycling, but like to read outstanding imagery in prose, you won't be dissapointed either.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreamy Recollections... Nov. 4 2005
By Bob Hanson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Quite a remarkable little book. A loose assemblage of thoughts and essays. These include the author's reflections on: his earliest attemps to ride, the inevitable collisions, embarrassments, his first custom built bike, lost or stolen and destroyed bikes, racing triumphs and frustrations, pain & suffering on the wheel, and the heights of pure pleasure which cycling brings. There is something which all devoted bicyclists can understand and have probably experienced themselves. If Marcel Proust had been a bike nut we'd have thousands of pages to glide through on the subject; here we have tiny bites of tasty flavors which may stimulate our own joyous memories. Like cycling along with Grandpa and listening to his long forgotten recollections on the subject. A little treasure.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biking to Oulipo Oct. 10 2003
By Rick Gordon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a little gem. Good writing about bikes, cycling, the Tour de France, racing, growing up in Loire, riding in Paris, etc. I can't recommend it highly enough. It is published by University of Nebraska Press (Bison Books) - they along with publishing western lit and history also publish a number of French lit books. Paul Fournel is a member of Oulipo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) along with other writers such as Raymond Queneau, Harry Mathews, George Perec, and Italo Calvino.
A good writer and a good publisher. The translation flows along nicely and although I can not attest to the accuracy (not being able to read French), I thought it quite good.
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