Neil Peart is best-known as the drummer and lyricist from the Canadian rock band Rush. But in 1997 he suffered the double tragedy of losing both his teenage daughter and wife (one in a fatal road accident, the other of cancer).
Devastated, alone, and haunted by ghosts, Peart decided to pack up and take to the road on his motorbike--a solitary "ghost rider"--in an effort to find "the healing road". Travelling alone across North America, Peart carries the reader with him as he slowly begins the process of self-healing, gradually taking more and more of an interest in his surroundings, the people he meets and the places he visits.
Literate, lucid, honest and opinionated, Peart is much more than just an observer or guide: he lets the reader into his feelings about his own painful process of recovery, as well as his reactions to the people he meets on his aimless trek. In physical terms, his journey is a "road to nowhere", but emotionally it really is the healing road.
Thankfully because Peart is by nature a logical, rational sceptic, there is little that comes across as sentimental here -- instead Peart's honest empiricism and dogged will to keep on going, somehow, sustain both him and the reader.
The only caveat with this book is the second half feels rushed and incomplete: understandably so, perhaps, as it was written while the band were recording their "Vapor Trails" album. Still, the first half or so is worth the price alone. This is Peart's best work -- far, far more compelling than his later and rather dull travel books, "Travelling Music" and "Roadshow", both of which focus on a frankly rather bored and somewhat self-important rockstar who apparently hits the road for no better reasons than (a) to relieve his boredom and (b) to make notes on mileage and what he had for dinner to fill out his next travel book.