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She's a Bad Motorcycle: Writers on Riding Paperback – 1 Dec 2001


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Amazon.com: 8 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Gang forum 16 Dec. 2005
By Sam Straight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The idea of this book -- a collection of short stories that explore the rich phenomenon of why people ride motorcycles -- is terrific; but the execution is disgusting. Anyone genuinely clueless and curious about why people ride would get a perverse enlightenment from SHE'S A BAD MOTORCYCLE. Just one story from a Hell's Angel perspective would have been plenty. Instead, most of the selections are from motorcycle gang members who are too busy bragging about raping, terrorizing, torturing, and pillaging to bother with good writing. Few ever get around to the subject of what motorcycle riding means to them.

Zanetti also seems to have trouble finding a ride out of California. The other 49 states are severely under represented.

The only reason this book is worth even 2 stars is that it includes a couple token gems that deserve far better company. Entries from Melissa Holbrook Pierson, Robert F. Fulton, and a handful of others aren't enough to make the book worth buying; but they are well worth reading on their own.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
When it's good, it's REALLY good. The rest is marginal. 1 Jun. 2004
By Global Chillin' - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I make a point of bringing a motorcycle book to read when my husband and I go on our annual bike tour. This year, I brought Bad Motorcycle. It's an interesting and eclectic collection of stories, essays and a poem (yes, it sucked. More on that later).
The writing styles and quality are as varied and diverse as motorcycle riders and the bikes we ride. Its not surprising that the book starts with a piece from Melissa Holbrook-Pierson's The Perfect Vehicle. She is able to describe the indescribable nuances about riding in a fluid, poetic and natural style. If you love motorcycles, do yourself a favor and buy The Perfect Vehicle. It's not without its flaws, but so well-written, the flaws are easy to overlook (which is more than I can say for a lot of writers.)
After reading a segment from Robert Fulton's One Man Caravan, I ordered the book because I couldn't get enough of his tales of derring-do during the 1930s.
For those who aren't into motorcycles, there are basically two types of motorcyclists. Harley-Davidsons and everyone else. I would fall under the 'everyone else' category. To me, motorcycling is like religion. Not everyone is into the same thing, but I totally respect people's choices. It's what makes the world go 'round. However, not being of the Harley faith, I found the piece by Hell's Angel pioneer, Sonny Barger to be OUTSTANDING. In the too short chapter of the book, Sonny bares a surprising amount of his soul with funny, insightful and intelligent writing. It has given me a new perspective on Harley riders.
Buried in the back of the book is a piece by Rachel Kushner which briefly chronicles her adventures racing in Baja. I was so intrigued, as soon as I finished it, I reread it.
Other memorable excerpts include Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries, Allen Norem's Storm, and Denis Johnson's Bikers for Jesus.
I read Hunter S. Thompson's piece on Hell's Angels. After reading it, I didn't really feel compelled to read the other stuff on Hell's Angels. However - and I knew I shouldn't have done this, but did it anyway - I read Diane Wakoski's poem My Hell's Angel. This sentimental pap from a groupie wannabe has no place in this book. How this made the cut is beyond me, but whatever. Any writer who writes about how beautiful she looks standing on a beach is a pretty good indicator of lame writing ahead.
And I'm going to go out on a limb here, and I'm sure this will ruffle the feathers of a lot of riders out there, but I think Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence has to be one of the most overrated books of all time. There. I've said it. The emperor has no clothes. Clearly I lack the highbrow intellegence and depth to fully grasp the intellectual pomposity of this (IMHO) overly verbose, boring collection of printed hot air. I first tried reading it before I started riding motorcycles and couldn't finish it. Then years later I tried reading it again after I started riding and still couldn't finish it. But then again, I took a philosophy class in college and didn't care for it. It seemed like a bunch of overeducated people expounding on how the world SHOULD be and not how it REALLY is.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
motorcycles and speed 8 Jan. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I want to comment only on one chapter of this book, the next to last. In this chapter, Rachel Kushner describes a race she was in down the Baja and her relationship with men, motorcycles and herself. Read it to believe it. It's amazing: action-packed, thoughtful and thoroughly absorbing. My only question is who is this writer?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing and very uneven 14 Jun. 2004
By Randolph Crawford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My favorites chapters in this anthology were Ted Simon's from Jupiter's Travels, Robert Fulton's from One Man Caravan, and of course, Robert Pirsig's from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which is a great read as well as a great ride). Eric Burdon's piece on Steve McQueen wasn't half bad either.
But there's far too much chaff with this wheat. About half of the chapters in this collection waste space on Hell's Angels and related gangery, much of which is bad fiction, dull fact, or has nothing to do with motorcycles. The lone standout is Sonny Barger's chapter which really is classic.
In the end, I think this book's value is twofold -- 1) you get perspective on the variety of riders, their perspectives, and their writing styles, and 2) it suggests further sources of motorcycle literature. But because the caliber of contributions perhaps befittingly matches the lack of sophistication or maturity of many bikers, I suggest that you borrow a copy (or buy used) and then do a lot of skimming.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good Anthology 2 April 2002
By A reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As a new rider I was looking for a book on the experience of riding, riders, destinations, etc. This book worked perfectly. It is a very good anthology of stories and, mostly, excerpts of other books. As in all anthologies, the entries vary in length and quality. Aside from just a few of the chapters, I enjoyed this collection very much. I do think that the editor should have given some information on the writers and on the original works from which the pieces are taken. I would have liked information on whether the original articles appeared in magazines or books and their dates of publication. I definitely recommend the book to anyone interested in reading about motorcycling.
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