Rebuilding the Indian: A Memoir

Fred Haefele, Author
Fred Haefele, Author Riverhead Books $24.95 (210p) ISBN 978-1-57322-099-6
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
An Indian, Haefele explains at the outset, is a make of motorcycle not built since 1953 but highly esteemed by American bikers in the 1930s and '40s. A Montana tree surgeon and an ex-teacher of creative writing, Haefele (City of Trees) set out to reconstruct an Indian, and that task gives the principal thrust to this memoir. The rehabilitation project involved searching for abandoned machines, negotiating for old parts, purchasing replacement parts when originals were not available and keeping an eye out for ""basketcases""--a motorcycle built from a hodgepodge of makes--from which valuable parts may be salvaged. Also included are accounts of the birth of his third child (the first of his second marriage), the vagaries of Montana weather and portraits of other bikers. But all else takes a backseat to the machine, and such a focus limits the book's appeal to readers equally committed to or fascinated by the construction of a what he calls a technological ""work of art."" (June)