Perfect Vehicle Paperback – May 1 1998
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"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
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.See all Product Description
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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)
Most recent customer reviews
Many motorcycle books are written by keen amateurs, people who love motorcycling but aren't necessarily experienced writers. Read morePublished on Dec 23 2013 by Tim King
For an older woman who recently started riding, this book was an inspiration ! All the details about her bikes (I did look into buying a Moto Guzzi), her rides, her friendships... Read morePublished on Oct. 4 2013 by Christine Bellerose
This is a must if you are interested by the motorcycling sport... plus an interesting story about the life of the author around her Moto Guzzi.Published on Jan. 21 2011 by Cibsim
The writer often reminds us her avocation is poet. And she certainly writes like it, tossing in obscure words--argot, benighted--with ease. Read morePublished on Sept. 12 2003 by misterbeets
or, rather, a motorcycle wreck. The author can't decide if she wants to write a serious book about the history of motorcycles, or go into rather boring detail about her own... Read morePublished on July 2 2003 by kgw
I do occassionally, but would not consider attempting this anywhere else, including the shower. Melissa Holbrook Pierson mentions this small item in her book, along with a deep... Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2003 by John Allenby
Pierson is wonderful at explaining the magic of motorcycling in a way that could only be called eloquent. For so many motorcyclists, the two wheeled vehicles consume our lives. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2003 by dp