Brenda Cregor's Reviews > Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
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Jun 13, 2011

really liked it

[ By the way...the best bit of advice from this novel had to do with the benefits of getting STUCK!...Love it.]

Any title which manages to mix spirituality, art, and an activity as seemingly mundane, frustrating, or practical as motorcycle maintenance deserves to be read.

This book was a refreshing surprise!

The protagonist is on an inner and outer journey and exploration, simultaneously. The outer journey has the complexities of travel partners, weather, physical exhaustion, and geography, and is narrated in a rather Ernest Hemingway-nuts-and-bolts manner, while the protagonist's inner journey and exploration becomes rather in depth and mind-blowing.

Some of the explanations of philosophy were rather long-winded for my taste, reminding me of the way Ayn Rand went on and on about objectivism in ATLAS SHRUGGED. However, I did not hold this practice too much against Pirsig, since it was necessary in order for us to become completely immersed and empathetic to the protagonist's hair-splitting thought processes.

Towards the end, I felt as though I was reading a mystery novel, and I read page after page wanting so very badly to know the "truth".

This book is now dog-earred to death! I even ripped some pages, so as to bend the paper to "point" at particularly gripping paragraphs. Yes, I could have gotten up to get a pen, but that would have meant halting my reading...and I was not about to let that happen.

The author states, before the books begins, that "what follows is based on actual occurrences". He says the book must be regarded in essence as fact.


I would never in a million years be talented enough to trace my thought processes and philosophy/value development in such a detailed manner.

This is why I read! THIS TYPE OF BOOK IS WHY I READ! Forget those memoirs which delineate a famous person's love affairs or "whoa-is-me" experiences! I want to read the words of someone who speaks openly about their mortal existence in such an unselfish way as to allow all who walk away from their words to be just a little better---a little more...excellent.

Pirsig did just that. This book reminds me of Bible stories. You know, those deeply personal embarrassing tales some historian wrote down and then someone else canonized just so billions of people through centuries could read the stories, and we could learn from them without having to tread the path ourselves? Or if we had tread the path, then we could find our way back to the light and to the right?

This is an extremely long and detailed biblical-type tale, more spiritual, of course, than religious.

As far as endings go, I had to read it a couple of times. If you have ever read the book, THE GIVER, you know the author offers the audience three possible endings, or should I say, readers typically come up with the same three endings. The author says only one is what she intended, though she has not publicly revealed which one.

In my mind, this book could have two possible conclusions. Last night, I laid in bed trying to determine which was "correct", and then I decided Pirsig would tell me to pick the one with the most "quality" for my life. And so I shall.

My husband is mechanically gifted. I found myself reading to him, and he would agree with Pirsig's observations regarding the mechanically minded. They are so true.

The AFTERWORD deserves FIVE STARS! It made the novel even more profound and significant. OH---MY---GOODNESS!!! Do not read it before you read the book...promise.

Most "quotes" from this book would fill almost half a page because they are really ideas, which take a long paragraph to explain. Here is one which is not too long:

***The past cannot remember the past. The future can't generate the future. The cutting edge of this instant right here and now is always nothing less than the totality of everything there is.

[Life's problems solved.]
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Doug (new) - added it

Doug Bradshaw Another book with varied opinions. I've wanted to give this one a shot and never have. I'll be interested in your reaction. Justin who is a bright friend of mine here, an attorney, loved it. Gave it four stars.

message 2: by Doug (new) - added it

Doug Bradshaw Another great review. I better put it on my list to read. You want some beautiful writing?

Try Louise Erdrich. I just ordered The Last Report of Miracles at Little Big Horse which will be my second of hers.

Brenda Cregor Now, this writing is not beautiful. It just has a philosophical depth I enjoyed, and, as I said, it just surprised me. There was something about it. I do believe I was subconsciously lured into giving it 4 stars.

Brenda Cregor There are so many books on this planet! I wish I had all the time in the world. I still have never read the Steinbeck novels you recommended. Sigh...and then there are my law books...shudder, shudder.

message 5: by Toni (new) - added it

Toni Wow, thanks for this insightful review. I just added the book to my to read shelf. =)

Julie I am with Toni, will add this to my list too! It's been a wild summer and I have not read one book :(. Thanks for review!

Brenda Cregor I was so pleasantly surprised!

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