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Perfect Vehicle Paperback – May 1 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton (May 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393318095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393318098
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.8 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #129,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

"From my mother I learned to write prompt thank-you notes for a variety of occasions," Melissa Holbrook Pierson writes. "From Mrs. King's ballroom dancing school I learned a proper curtsy and, believe it or not, what to do if presented with nine eating utensils at the same place setting.... From motorcycles I learned practically everything else." Pierson, an intellectual New Yorker, is open to her own contradictions--she is bold and fearful, a motorcycle-crazed poet with a Ph.D., and these seeming incompatibilities are what make this book so good. She can write equally well about the visceral pleasures of riding and about the pains of heartbreak or her own displeasure with her fears.

This is the motorcycle memoir for those who are sick of memoirs--or motorcycles. It is a book for people who don't know what the big deal is about riding, or why the Guggenheim Museum in New York, in a swirl of controversy, would exhibit motorcycles as works of modern art. "Riding on a motorcycle can make you feel joyous, powerful, peaceful, frightened, vulnerable, and back out to happy again," Pierson writes, "perhaps in the same ten miles. It is life compressed, its own answer to the question, 'Why?'" --Maria Dolan

From Booklist

It's too bad that people with little interest in motorcycles will generally not be the ones picking up this book to read. Although motorcycle diehards will find their convictions confirmed here, motorcycle know-nothings perhaps could benefit the most from its unabashed pages, gaining the inspiration to try their hand at motorcycling down the open road. The author's 10-year love affair with motorcycles informs this extended homage to the thrills and chills of this exciting vehicle. Only 7 million Americans ride, Pierson cites; but they are a dedicated few, who seek no greater pleasure than being ensconced on a motorcycle, head down, wind roaring in their ears, "the road, constantly turning, constantly offer[ing] up the possibility of something unexpected around the bend." The author appreciates its dangers, but she hopes her reader appreciates the feeling of freedom that time spent on a motorcycle can provide. Discussions of motorcycle history and racing round out this buoyant book. Brad Hooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From my mother I learned to write prompt thank-you notes for a variety of occasions; from Mrs. King's ballroom dancing school I learned a proper curtsy and, believe it or not, what to do if presented with nine eating utensils at the same place setting, presumably at the home of the hosts to whom I had just curtsied. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth on Aug. 13 2002
Format: Paperback
My dear friend John gave me this book as a gift because like me he is a motorcycle lover, rider, free spirit. Shy 250 pages the book can best be described as a sensual, intellectual wonder.
For me it is the following quotes that bring me back re-reading and re-reading.
"At precisely this moment someone, somewhere, is getting ready to ride. The motorcycle stands in a cool. dark garage, its air expectant with gas and grease. The rider approaches from outside; the door opens with a whir and a bang. The light goes on. A flame. everlasting, seem to rise on a piece of chrome. As the rider advances, leather sleeves are zipped down tight on the forearms, and the helmet briefly obliterates everything as it is pulled on, the chin strap buckled..........Soft leather gloves with studded palms, insurance against the reflex of a falling body to put its hands out in midair, go on last"
"The key is slipped into the ignition at the top of the steering head. Then the rider swings a leg over the seat and sits but keeps the weight on the balls of the feet" "In the neat dance that accomplishes many operation on a motorcycle --one movement to countered by another fro, an equilibrium of give and take--the squeezed clutch lever is slowly let out while the other hand turns the trottle grip down...."
This woman, this Melessia Holbrook Pierson knows what she speaks of and as I read I feel as if she is with the group I ride with on back roads through out the Sierras. The Hoggettes as we jokingly call ourselves, because we ride Harleys. So many books on riding real motorcycles are written by men. This one by this woman is the best I own.
She has a wonderful section on the value of rally rides as well as loads of photographs of the history and evolution of motorcycles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Hade on Feb. 29 2004
Format: Paperback
Besides a few obligatory negative remarks regarding white males and negative overtones about Harleys, this book is a good read. RIght off the bat we get the resume of this writer telling us she has the educational requirements to write this book. The writer is very good at putting to words what a lot of us must feel on the bike. I do feel sorry for her though, she just never seems to get that biking is just about feeling for a lot of us. THis writer seems to have it in for white, male harley riders. So, if you the reader do not care about a women riders' point of view by pass this book. However, if you are, as I am, not educated with words but interested read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amber Denney on July 16 2002
Format: Paperback
I thought this was a great book. It was fun to read, I could relate to it, and it spoke to me. Plain and simple, I liked reading it and I would certainly recommend it both to people who ride and to people who don't. Most of these reviews spend a lot of time comparing this book to others and highlighting areas where they think it falls short. I don't think I'd ever read anything again if I looked at everything I picked up from the perspective of how it will measure up. Independent from other books, this one is a keeper!
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Format: Paperback
As a motorcycle newbie, I've been reading a number of technique-oriented books in order to become a better rider. But I wanted to find something about the actual experience with a more autobiographical slant. I spotted "The Perfect Vehicle" on Amazon.com, and it immediately caught my interest. The reader reviews were quite interesting, ranging from exuberant identification to scathing dismissal. Any book that generates feedback of such jarring disparity must have something to say, so I went ahead and took a chance on it.
Ms. Pierson has pretty much bared her soul in this book, and my attention never wandered from start to finish. She's a strong, yet vulnerable woman who embarked on a quest to reconcile her desire to find a man worthy of her love with a need for independence and adventure. Motorcycling was the medium that allowed her to explore both of these (apparently) conflicting dictates of the heart. After much relational and highway mileage, Ms. Pierson seems to have made peace with herself, and this book is a well-written chronicle of that journey.
"The Perfect Vehicle" does contain some interesting facts about motorcycle history, rallies, and so on. However, it's Ms. Pierson's relationships and riding experiences combined with the resulting insights that really make this book shine. Some reviewers have slammed her for being a man-hater, too introspective, or a Moto Guzzi snob, but I disagree (well, the Moto Guzzi bias might have some merit, but I have a similar affection for Harleys, so I won't cast stones). If I grow half as much as she did via motorcycling, I'll consider the money invested into my H-D Fat Boy well spent. "The Perfect Vehicle" is a great addition to the motorcyclist's library, and anyone who has a passion for adventure and self-discovery will enjoy it as well.
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Format: Paperback
My wife and I became interested in Motorcycle riding, and I looked for a book from an Author that shared this interest. Melissa Pierson shares the intimacy she has uncovered for Riding in this book. Along the way, we experience her first motorcycle purchase, personal relationship problems, and ride with her to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Canada, and a difficult riding trip through Germany. She shares with us how the outsider may view the female motorcycle rider. She also gives various accounts of past female riding in history and the motivations behind it. Her enthusiasm for motorcycles is infectious but she is quick to point out the dangers of riding and gives multiple accident stories to dramatize this effectively.
My only negative view on the book is that the latter half of the book involved her seemingly high view of the Moto Guzzi Motorcycle. I don't know personally if these motorcycles are reliable, but she shares breakdown after breakdown story with these cycles, that I began skipping pages that delt with this and I could not help wondering why she would have not picked a more reliable cycle like a Yamaha or a Honda. Other than that, the book is good and would only strenthen interests in freedom riding, and motorcycles in general. (Minus Mrs. Pierson's bias shared for Motor Guzzi's)
David Carlin
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