The Perfect Vehicle: What It is about Motorcycles

Melissa Holbrook Pierson, Author W. W. Norton & Company $24 (237p) ISBN 978-0-393-04064-7
People who ride motorcycles live in another world, where the line between life and death often is as blurred as the center line whizzing by beneath the foot pegs. ""On a bike,"" Pierson writes in her first book, ""I am hurtling toward what I imagine is a fearful future, but I am using a fearless means to do so. It's odd as hell."" Odd, too, is this book. But that's what makes it a precious piece of literature, an ode to a way of life dismissed by most worthwhile writers. Pierson's cultured yet personable and honest style will hook both enthusiasts and readers who've never even sat on a motorcycle--let alone know the difference between a Honda CBR and a Honda CRX. Pierson, a longtime Moto Guzzi rider, weaves autobiography, travelogue, motorcycling history and social commentary with delicious descriptions of the pre-ride ritual, cruising in the rain, the camaraderie of female riders (her husband, the writer Luc Sante, does not ride) and the significance of a wrong turn that leads to a cemetery at the end of a deserted cul-de-sac. The author has stared death in the face more than once, and she understands why medical professionals call her preferred means of transportation a ""donorcycle."" But--like so many of America's seven million or so riders --she just can't seem to permanently park that mystical machine. After reading this book, you'll know why. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1997
Release date: 04/01/1997
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-86207-119-3
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-393-31809-8
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-393-07836-7
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