Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: Zero to Sixty

The description of this book really caught my eye. "Nearing 60 and diagnosed with heart disease, what's a man to do? Road trip of course." It  talked about Gary Paulsen, author of numerous children's books, and fellow New Mexican, who uses this book to "recount his life-affirming ride from New Mexico to Alaska." Well, I'm now over 50 and enjoy good health, but you never know. I bought it with eager anticipation.

Zero to Sixty - The Motorcycle Journey of a Lifetime by Gary Paulsen. A memoir by the author of WINTERDANCE. As mentioned, I was looking for ward to a good read about an epic motorcycle trip done by a guy not too many years older than myself. I am sure that the journey was, indeed, fantastic. Just after purchasing his first Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Gary decides to ride his blue Heritage Softail to Alaska. A friend hears about it and comes along with him.

This has all the makings of a great story. Recently diagnosed with heart disease, our hero buys the bike of his dreams and almost immediately decides to take off on a 10,000 mile trip with a buddy. Right? Wrong!

 Each chapter starts with two or three paragraphs about where they are at in their rather spontaneous journey. Then, the author is reminded of some childhood, or Army or some other memory, then spends the rest of the chapter on it. Don't get me wrong, Mr Paulsen has had a rather interesting life, but I got this book to read about RIDING and motorcycles and overcoming (at least temporarily) the effects of aging.
He could have had a great photo like this, but didn't. (from www.womenridersnow.com)
In later chapters, he does write a bit more about the journey, but by that time, I was disappointed by the lack of coverage about the rest of the trip, that I couldn't thoroughly enjoy it. I will say, that his opinion of RV'ers is consistent with Tiger Edmonds'. In Chapter 10, he writes: "I'm not going to say that every person driving a motor home is a road-ignorant old fart who couldn't pour piss from an old boot with the instructions written the heel..." and "They're like lemmings, except that most of them seem to have less cognitive ability..." Come to think of it, Chapter 10 probably makes the book worth buying and reading.

Like so many books and movies about grand journeys, the first half or so gets all the coverage. The end is an after thought. In Zero to Sixty, the ride from Fairbanks back to New Mexico is covered in just under three (yes, 3) pages. Really? There was nothing of note seen, no awesome section of road, no example of incredible stupidity by a guy in a Winnebago? Furthermore, he does not use the last chapter, or the last portion of the last chapter to describe what he learned about life, the universe or everything.

I've never read any other of Gary Paulsen's works. If you are a fan and want to learn some really interesting things about his childhood and time spent in the Army, you will probably love this book. If you're wanting a read about a great ride, skip it.

I have an idea for a rating symbol, but don't have it ready yet. In the meantime, I give Zero to Sixty 2 stars. It would have been one star except Chapter 10 earned its own star.

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