Customer Reviews of Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road
What can I say? As a fan of Neil's since 1980 I thought for sure that when word had come out about the loss of his daughter in a car accident that he would be done with Rush as a touring act. I thought he would maybe just become a writer of books of his travel's ala his other book The Masked Rider. Then when I heard about the loss of his wife 10 months later...I knew it was over for Rush period.
I finished this book last night with tears streaming down my eyes. Tears of joy,redemption,and a freeing spirit. You might find Neil a little hard to stomach at times with some of his views on life and America during his travels but as soon as you have a problem with him...the very next paragraph on the page you understand what he just said and why he just said it. You fall in and out of love with his story and life.
This is a must read for anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one. Whether it be a spouse or a child or even someone that played such an integral part of your life and lost them suddenly. Which is what happened with Neil Peart.
I can only hope that this will elevate his status as one of the great writers of all time. What better treat did we get to this book? A soundtrack to it by his band Rush called Vapor Trails. A soundtrack to the book...now that is always something I wanted and I for once...got it!
Introspection in a travalogue wrapper - good stuff
Admittedly, as a fan of Rush, I picked this book up simply because it was written by Peart, but as a literary snob myself, there was no way I could read it with the attitude that the author could do no wrong.
I was impressed. Though 'Ghost Rider' only can only marginally be called a travelogue or a self-help publication, as a source of inspiration - particularly for anyone who has dealt with grief on such a strenuous level - it's invaluable. The book was revealing, particularly in the universal ways of human frailty. Facing the loss of his family, nothing - not money, not drugs, not even friends or family - seemed to offer the comfort Peart needed to heal. What he had, however, was the means and the wherewithal to escape from all the places where memory hangs so low to the ground. As an author and lyricist, I find Peart to be brutally intellectual, a trait that, more often than not, reveals the struggling emotional child within. Here, in 'Ghost Rider,' that child comes to the surface as he goes through the phases of grief while pandering to that "little baby soul," running away to avoid memories and feeling anger for those who left him behind. Too often, when a spouse dies, the widow paints a picture of a saint and martyr. Not so here. Peart clearly addresses the fact that his relationship was strained from time to time - right up to his partners demise. We're left with an impression that this account is so indellibly REAL.
While one can easily look upon this publication as the selfish ranting of a man too narcissistic for his own good, I challenge anyone to give an example in their own lives of a time of crisis wherein they weren't self-absorbed. That's the beauty of this book. It takes these varied thoughts of pain and frustration and presents them honestly. All the while, Peart takes keen notice of the delicacy of life - not just his own, but of the world around him. His facsination with birdwatching, in particular, represents a detached longing to observe a life just out of his reach. His contempt for Americans stung a bit, but, admittedly, I understand his feeling. American tourists are often every bit as culturally deprived as Peart is snobbish.
The mechanical nature with which the book is fashioned - glimpses of letters to a friend in prison, pieces of journals mixed with weather reports and observations on flora and fauna - gave one the true sense of travel. The bike breaks down. Rain impedes the journey. The author meets people. And as this man struggling with loss sees clearly, life goes on - even without him.
I was surprised at the wonderful ending, a complete whiplash effect I hadn't forseen in any way, as abrupt as it was hopeful and sweet. I highly reccommend this book, especially for anyone dealing with a troubled time in life. I walked away from this book with the notion that as Peart found therapy in travel, so may each of us find that there is merit in these diversions we allow ourselves. Especially when they give us time to think.
Hopefully, You'll Never Meet Your Heroes
For years I had been wanting to read 'Ghost Rider', I recalled from the news reports back in '98 how Neil suffered the worst in human tragedies and I was curious to see how he dealt with them. When he decided to share his thoughts I was very intrigued. Certainly there are tragedies everyday, some worse than his, but this was Neil Peart, one of the greatest drummers of all time. I had to know how he felt.
Well after 400+ pages I am sure of one thing: Neil is the quintissential oxymoron. First off, he seems to really not like you or me, despite the fact that our purchases of his records, cassettes, CD's, videos and concert tickets over a 30-year period has bought his BMW RS1100GS and allowed him the 'freedom' to deal with his crisis in a manner of his choosing. Yet he wants to share his thoughts with us almost as if he is so insecure he needs our approval. He claims to disdain anyone overweight or sloven but tells us of his joy in not shaving or cutting his hair occasionally in his transgressions.
Undoubtedly, by way of his passion for Art and Literature, he comes across as being smarter than you and me but the way he says it implies that he is really not sure..."See I'm really smart don't you think?" He wants to be a private person yet he writes a book that peers deep into his soul and then shares it with the rest of us 'common men.' He preaches about all the faults of man yet he conveys these mostly through his letters to his drug smuggling riding buddy who sits in jail for several years.
Basically, I'll bet that he was definitely this screwed up before these terrible tragedies befell him. It just goes to show you that it is best to never your meet your heroes because the reality will always disappoint the fantasy. Now having said that I would definitely recommend this book because I think the travelling and soul searching are of incredible interest to just about everyone.
However, as I continue to enjoy Rush as they complete their fourth decade of existence I hope Neil's path and my path never intersect. The disappontment would be too great for both of us.
The story of a man determined to save his own life.
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit to being a long-time Rush fan, which by extension makes me a long-time fan of Neil Peart, the author of this work and drummer and lyricist for Rush. I had been aware of the tragedies that he and his family had experienced, and knew that it was the reason behind the several-year gap between albums (Test for Echo released in 1996. Rush's next album, Vapor Trails, would not release until 2002.). However, I didn't know the story of what brought Neil back to Rush, and thus Rush back to the world until I picked up this book at a concert in July of 2002.
When Neil Peart lost his daughter to a traffic accident in the fall of 1997, and his wife to cancer (though, really, he knew it was a broken heart that took his wife), he was an empty man, a man with no reason to live, and little desire to do so. To save himself from the loneliness and the emptiness of a life alone, Peart took to the roads on his motorcycle on a journey that would cover Canada, much of the western United States, and parts of Central America. As he wrote:
"My little baby soul was not a happy infant, of course, with much to complain about, but as every parent learns, a restless baby often calms down if you take it for a ride. I had learned my squalling spirit could be soothed the same way, by motion, and so I had decided to set off on this journey into the unknown. Take my little baby soul for a ride."
This book is a compelling combination of travelogue, literary journal, sarcastic wit, and honest soul- searching. It provides a number of insights to a complex and intriguing man, one who would be interesting even without his fame. His humor, his pain, his reflections, his irritation, his impatience, his fear... All of it presented for the world to see, and to learn from.
I recommend this book not only to Rush fans, but to anyone interested in seeing how someone survives the losses Peart experienced and emerges a whole person on the other side.
I've been a Neil Peart literary geek since first reading his Rush lyrics back in high school. When The Masked Rider came out, I was depressed as it was initially going to be available in Canada only, or by written request and payment directly from the publisher. When I finally got it, I loved it. I've read it several times now and it gets better each time.
While I knew this Rider would be a different trip entirely, I went into it expecting the brilliant word choices and evocative description from The Masked Rider, and I was not disappointed. But the pain and anguish Mr. Peart pours out to his readers from his journal notes, his letters to Brutus and others, and the general pathos he felt (evidenced by his inability to reconcile his former life with this one) was intense! Nothing can prepare a reader for the emotional mind-bender he relates to us, just as NOTHING could prepare him for actually living it.
I am grateful that Mr. Peart has continued writing and playing in Rush. I am grateful that he has come to terms with all of his lives and is moving forward one "little baby soul" step at a time. Lastly, I am grateful that he considered us good enough friends to share somewhat in his pain, because it makes for a great story.