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4.6 out of 5 stars
Far and Away: A Prize Every Time
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Neil Peart's latest offering, Far and Away: A Prize Every Time, stays true to the author's established vision. While an argument could be made that most of the writing here isn't original to this work (most of it comes straight from Peart's personal website) it is an argument that doesn't hold much weight. Having first read most of the material as it appeared on line I have to say that new life has been breathed into it in this new and refreshing presentation.

Aesthetically, Far and Away is Peart's most impressive book to date. The photography is a mix of beautiful sights, or interesting insights, but more importantly always relevant to the writing. This book is a labor of love and it really does come through in the physical feel and presentation.

Peart's writing is a lot like his musicianship. He has an established style, but it isn't stagnant, it is a living breathing thing. Part of the fun with this read is not only being taken on the journey through the events in the author's life, but also on the journey of the author's relationship to his own craft. The end result is a new layer of intimacy to his prose. Peart, though somewhat shy, has never been so as an author, which is one of his greatest strengths. And though the proverbial floodgates aren't wide open in this work (which is for the best) regular readers of his material will have the sensation that, with this book, the doorway into his life and times has been opened just a crack more.

Peart's writing usually makes me want to go buy a motorcycle and travel the country, but this time around it has left me wanting to start keeping a journal. And that's one of the best parts about a new Peart book, like the title suggests, it's a prize every time.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Q: Why should I buy this book when I can read Neil Peart's blog for free?

A: 'Far and Away' includes additional essays not included in Neil's excellent blog. They blew me away, sprung tears of joy and pride in my eyes, and made me laugh out loud.

Neil ascends further into the pantheon of great writers with stand-alone packets of stories filled with the usual adventure, geology lessons, and humor in his writing. My favorites are "Under the Marine Layer" and "The Ballad of Larry and Suzy", where he shares his thoughts and feelings of becoming a father again after losing his only child (and first wife and even his dog in 1997). This is not `The Motorcycle Diaries' or the kind of fluff designed to sell to the lowest common denominator of reader. Neil used metaphor wrapped in everyday Southern California events and some lucky circumstances (his friend's daughter is named Selena and she shines an enviable facet in his prose) to tell the story.

It's an interesting read if you have no idea who Neil is, but as a Rush fan it's delightful to share bittersweet life on the road and the hilarious interactions with bandmates Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee.

In an April 2011 interview with Neil by Jim Ladd of KLOS Jim wishes we could see `the infectious gleam in his eye and smile'. Wishes come true in 'Far and Away'; it's filled with pictures (mainly taken by Neil) who has an artist's eye for composition. My only regret with the book is some of the non-professional photos, particularly ones taken on overcast winter days, would shine better with a little enhancement. Neil's probably used to the brightness of photos lit by a monitor; print immediately snuffs them. The art director could've said or done something--Neil's a writer, not a Photoshopper.

I love a blog, but I love a book more. I took 'Far and Away' on the train to the show at Madison Square Garden, and when I finished I hugged its linen cover with copper foil title and smiled deeply. Nothing like a book.

I hope his agent sends this to The New York Times. Neil's ready.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
"Far and Away" is my favorite of Peart's books. The "open letter" format gives him terrific agility between subjects, form, tone, and perspective. There is a careful informality to each piece, as if he is chatting with the reader over a late-night drink, sitting on a terrace overlooking the lights of Southern California. There is intimacy, too, the intimacy of strangers. The emotional timbre of each piece has increased, as opposed to some of his earlier work (even "Ghost Rider") where the subjects where more obviously private - and therefore the reader needed to be kept a little farther away from the author by careful use of grammar and style.

For the audience not familiar with Peart's day job, "Far and Away" is a treasure of travel literature, both between geographic locales and between ideas. The casual tone of the work belies its attention to the craft of writing. Much as Rush fans practice playing "YYZ" repeatedly just for the joy of it, Peart practices writing for the pleasure of creating a finely tuned, precise, meaningful phrase. The essays stand on their own, and anyone who appreciates the patient, meticulous, loving effort of good writing will be satisfied - and grateful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Once again Neil adds miles to his motorcycle - informative and historical. I gave this to someone who is interested in travel and knew nothing about Neil or Rush - he thoroughly enjoyed it and is reading Neil's other books.

Not just for a fan of Rush's music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Literally. Neil takes us along to some of his favorite places. While it might not win an award, it is Neil. Speaking to us. Taking us on a journey. Giving advice. Always returning and getting to the show on time. Shunpiking. Now you will have to read the book to find out what that means! Fun read. And there is a prize at the end of each ride.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Once again Neil proves how strong of a writer he really is. This was thoroughly enjoyable reading and every bit as good as Ghost Rider. Although many have complained that most of it was also on his blog, most people (myself included) don't read the blog and prefer to read the "old school" way.
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on October 31, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is an outstanding work by one of the most creative, introspective minds in the history of modern music. Neil Peart... Drummer extraordinaire, lyricist, author, moto-journalist, socio-environmental psychologist. The style of the book is a collection of shorter chapters, replete with pictures, capturing the time period between the Snakes and Arrows tour, all the way to the recent Time Machine epoch. I recently re-read this book, wanting to relive the magic once again.

Thus, the typical Rush/Neil Peart fan will find this work interesting, as will motorcyclists, travelers and anyone seeking a well-written work by a humble, private author. Several things come to mind which have vastly changed from Neil's last work: Pictures...yes, pictures!! Thank you, Mr. Peart. You have endeared the hearts of many motorcyclists around the world who treasure reading of your visits to places that they will never get to ride through. One word of advice, however, is that it would seem satisfactory if you took a few pictures here and there of the scenery and not just your head-inside-the-helmet-next-to-the-scenery. Seems to be a little too much taking one hand off of the bars, while you snap the picture. Just sayin'...

The other thing that has changed in the tone of the book is that the mood generally seems light-hearted and happier. The dislike for fan encounter is really absent from this book. After having read all of Neil's books, I know that this is an issue that has just plain worn him out. Frankly, I can't say I blame him. In his own words, he just wants to be "a guy" and certainly not adulated in every public place that he goes. Being followed for miles while on a tour bus is probably not one of his greatest aspirations in life.....nor is being called by a stranger who just left a six-pack outside his hotel room door in the middle of the night. I wouldn't say that Neil is ungrateful - just that he prefers to be a little more "low-key" than Geddy and Alex. I think I would, at that point, too...

Even if you weren't a Neil Peart/Rush fan or a motorcyclist, Neil's style as an author is engaging and quite humorous. From the Dizzy Dean quotes, to other "fun facts", Neil is always full of knowledge on different subjects and is quite interesting, causing the reader to lose him/herself in whatever he is describing: wearing full motorcycle gear in all climates, the hummingbird family in his backyard in California, snow-shoeing in Canada, the mysterious cell-phone tower in the distance, etc...

The tone in the opening pages of the book is set with Neil declaring that this is a "book of letters, and a serial memoir, and a travel book that includes motorcycling, drumming, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, natural history, human history, birdwatching, hiking, driving, church signs, amateur philosophy and....pretty much everything".

Despite the verbal "swats" that Neil takes at religion, the book is packed with adventure of his tours on the road and some not-so-great moments, e.g. hitting the deer on his motorcycle and Neil showing the humanistic side of himself (as any animal-loving human would do). It also offers some very astute advice, coming from someone that should really be a spokesperson for motorcycle safety, having logged as many miles as Neil has: the need to wear full-dress in all weather, in all states. Like Neil, I can't imagine heading out on a bike with head and body exposed, especially at highway speeds.
What I really love about this book is not only the fact that it's chock full of great stories involving motorcycling, drumming, Rush and the Neil's private life, away from music; it's the specific captivating style that Neil tends to absorb the reader in, except this time around, the pictures make it so complete. He can easily transition from a motorcycling trip that culminates in a celebration of fine dining, to his project involving the Drum Channel, to writing about marine life, as in "Under The Marine Layer".

Perhaps one of the most significant things about "Far and Away" is that Neil is smiling again, at least on the outside. One has to wonder with certain mention in this book, as well as the fast-forward to the sometimes dark themes of "Clockwork Angels" if the smile isn't really a brilliant disguise. Even so, we'll take it for what it's worth.

Truth be told, there's a very humorous guy inside Neil Peart who can easily express himself through his pen. In this state and behind the drum kit, Neil is very much in command and at ease. I enjoyed his parody in "Far and Away" of riding in his Aston-Martin DB5 to the lyrics of "Red Barchetta", one of my favorite Rush songs from "Moving Pictures".

In the later part of the book, one can also get a sense that a career of constant touring, especially in the early days, have taken their tolls on the three members of Rush, especially as expressed by Neil. One can be quite positive that it is more difficult each time the band tours to go out on the road and do it, no matter the love for the music. In his own words in this book, drumming is a "grim, arduous, sometimes painful job".

Sometimes...just sometimes, Neil seems to overstep himself with his opinions on topics such as religion, as he does ever-so-subtly in this book. Interestingly enough, on his own website, Neil proclaims that he doesn't want the "taint" of being a faith-basher, yet he does it with just about every comment he makes in that particular direction.

Realistically, regarding the church signs and amateur philosophy that Neil alludes to in the early pages of the book, his own description of his philosophy as being "amateur" about sizes it up when it comes to certain topics. It IS amateur. As far as religion, if Neil could just leave it out of his work, it would probably save him the "taint" he wants to avoid about being a faith-basher. Even so, Neil is not shy about it all, at least in writing. His response to Blaise Pascal's theorem that it is "safer" to believe in God than not, because you have nothing to lose if you're right, and everything to lose if you're wrong was "Man up, Pascal!"... to which I reply, "Man up, Elwood!" As brilliant and interesting as Neil's writing is, he sometimes overextends his opinion as fact, as if he has falsified the non-falsifiable hypothesis and proven that he was descended from an amoeba.... While I didn't openly declare Pascal as being right, I also didn't declare him wrong.

Moreover to the point above, Neil preaches (sorry, no pun intended) about tolerance and respect, yet he can only personally agree to the tolerance part of it and not the respect. To quote Neil, "Those who attribute spiritual power to geological formations, a humorless deity, or articles of clothing (think Catholic, Hasidic, Mormon or Buddhist) are difficult to respect - not so much for their magic but for their vanity". To me, that's a fairly blunt remark to make in a book that's pretty much of a different tone... but that's all part of Neil's attempt at "amateur philosophy", as is labeling holy holidays (Christmas, nonetheless, even though he didn't say it openly) as "meaningless rituals and customs"... It's this "blemish" that the author doesn't seem to get that he doesn't have to respect others' traditions, but he also doesn't have to exemplify and bash them in every book. It's also sad from Neil's writing about love and respect as in "The Garden", with respect being somewhat arbitrary on his behalf.

Overall, this is a great work - full of great stories inside the mind and life of Neil Peart, who is undeniably a premier icon in the world of drumming, progressive music and modern music...
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on October 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
The journeys of Neil Peart, and his cast of motorcycle mates, is certainly a prize every time.
By that, I mean that, like every good oberserver/journalizer, as we travel through life's highways and byways, we can indeed see the treasure at the end of our rainbow, the reason we went on a particular pathway, so to say, our raison d'voyager.
Neil, in "Far and Away", has done that for us. He has traveled around the globe inbetween concerts, and between albums, just to do that for us. His journey of a thousand miles may have begun with his motorcycle revving up, but it was made tolerable, nay, enjoyable by the myriad of discoveries along the way. He may be the performer, the player, but we are the audience behind the gilded cage. And this is clearly an enjoyable journey.
This collection of essays covers a wide variety of travels and experiences. Through his eyes, we see the open road, with magic at the fringes, we see the snows of Quebec, the winding roads of Ireland, the swamps and bayous, the snows of the Northern states, and the wide open expanses of the arid regions. Through the `letters', we see the restless spirit that is within Neil, and exactly how he can do, and continue to do.
What drives a man to ride the open road? What keeps him touring, now for 38 years, despite a well acknowledged dislike for tours? Is it the experience of the crowds? The challenge of performing a better show every time? Or is it the journey along the way?
After reading these essays, and reflections, I think the answer is some bits of all of that. But there is something else. If we look just at the lyrical output of Mr Peart, then we realize that his style of lyricism is not an accident, it is the product of a mind allowed to roam free, perhaps on the back of a bike, or looking over the Grand Canyon, or the mountains of Waterton. If we look at his drive for perfection in his performances, that too, must be cultivated and diverted at times.
While the text is very descriptive, the photographs he includes are very welcome, adding what words alone cannot do always. Perhaps the best way to read this book is to have a low humming motor behind you, with a fan blowing gently on your face. Hard to say, we all experience differently.
By nature (as far as we can tell), Mr Peart is reflective, quiet, and obviously, an adventurer. If we project his `possible' past life, he may have been a voyageur, paddling the rivers of Quebec, or the rivers of Ruperts Land (Alberta, Saskatchewan). He may have been a soldier on the roads in the Roman Empire, or perhaps, a sailor on the open seas.
To say I have enjoyed this book is an understatement. A proper appreciation of "Far and Away" is that of one essay a day, over a fine cup of coffee, or wine. This is a journey after all, not a race. As I have stated before, we are the audience behind the gilded cage. That is a privilege.
Tim Lasiuta
[...]
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on January 25, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A really enjoyable book written by someone who seems to be a really nice guy. Great when you have a half hour or so when you just want to relax with some lovely images and thoughts in your mind.

What I would advise against is reading it in January if you own a motorcycle live somewhere like Sweden, because you'll find yourself wandering into the garage on a more regular basis, looking longingly at your pickled motorcycle and wishing the snow would go away. Reading Far and Away is like taking a whiff of cigarette smoke after you've quit smoking for three months. Though, on the upside, it fires the imagination to start planning trips once the bike's back on the road.

Loved the book. It drops a star for a number of grammar issues, but they don't really detract from the content.
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on April 16, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
These are articles all assembled in book form from Neil's website where he does his blog called News, Weather and Sports. The ensemble is nice and it makes for convenient reading rather than sitting on a computer reading them online. I thought one improvement he could make would have been a little additional material or commentary after each article versus what was online. Another improvement could have been some additional pictures. Not just cutting and pasting what was already presented to the reader in digital format.Other than that the writing is always good and he presents his thoughts in an easy to read and entertaining manner. Not something that everyone can do.
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