Riding with Rilke: Reflections on Motorcycles and Books

Ted Bishop, Author
Ted Bishop, Author . Norton $23.95 (261p) ISBN 978-0-393-06261-8
Reviewed on: 08/07/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Hardcover - 261 pages - 978-0-670-06385-7
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-393-34643-5
Hardcover - 261 pages - 978-0-14-305131-2
Paperback - 261 pages - 978-0-393-33074-8
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English professor Bishop trades "tweed for leather" and hurtles away from the University of Alberta (Canada) on his Ducati, which he rides south through the Western U.S. all the way to the University of Texas at Austin. His professional objective was research on Virginia Woolf's novel Jacob's Room at the UT archives of British modernist writers, but his pledge along the way was "To seek out the smallest roads possible, to avoid the direct route, to eat in mom-and-pop diners." For Bishop, riding "is an inward experience. Like reading," a parallel that loosely links the elements of this discursive but engaging account—part travelogue, part ode to his bike and part literary criticism. He temporarily abandons his Woolf scholarship for a project on Joyce's Ulysses , a venture that sidetracks him to New York City and Europe before he heads back to Austin to pick up his Ducati. The ride home ends in disaster when he wipes out at 105 mph, breaks his back in two places, but survives to walk again—and write this easygoing, romantic memoir infused with joie de vivre. (Sept.)

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