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.