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Bicycle Diaries Paperback – Illustrated, September 28, 2010
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--Time Out New York
"Whether you are a cyclist or not, Byrne's insights into everything from outside art to aboriginal folklore are wry, witty, and more often than not, wise as well."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Reading Bicycle Diaries makes cosmic indifference a lot easier to deal with."
--The Seattle Times
About the Author
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0143117963
- ISBN-13 : 978-0143117964
- Dimensions : 5.3 x 0.83 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Illustrated edition (September 28, 2010)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #59,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Bicycle Diaries are a enjoyable collection of thoughts, views, and essays formed by The Talking Heads founder and front-man - David Byrne. Using his fold up bicycle David takes the reader on a trek through American Cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, San Francisco, and New York. He shares interesting sights, and tells of adventures he stumbles upon. Art and music are all important subjects that are enlightened, and interpreted the way only David Byrne can do.
Then it's off to foreign cities such as Berlin, Istanbul, Sidney, and London. Political history is often discussed when it comes to exotic soil. History facts are frequently entertaining, for example when Germany invented a weird sexless popular dance that the government attempted to insert into popular culture as a kind of immunization against Elvis's rock-and-roll gyrations. When biking in Australia, Byrne's experiences are recurrently captivating as we learn the land is full of unpleasant reminders of natures indifference to humans. Poisonous snakes and frogs, spiky plants, toxic spiders, quicksand, and endless deserts, reminding us that we are just guests there.
Byrne reminds us that when on a bicycle our human inner workings are manifested in three dimensions, all around us. Our value and hopes are easy to read, and right there in front of us, such as buildings, museums, temples, and shops. This mix bag of pleasure is gratifying and knowledgeable. The liberating - physical and psychological sensation is more persuasive, than any practical argument about riding a bike. Observing and engaging the landscape with David Byrne will make the reader want to go explore the world on two wheels.
This inspired me to explore my city on my bicycle: "I value the perspective I get from a bike, and the freedom, more than I realize." (Byrne, David. Bicycle Diaries (p. 132). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
Top reviews from other countries
As the title suggests, the material for the book evolved in diary form over time, and the structure of the book reflects this. It is right, and true to the material, that this should be so, but it does mean that the various entries are of variable quality. Nevertheless, books of this kind, where an intelligent and engaged observer with a liberal agenda but no particular end in mind takes a close look at localities, are scarce indeed. In the hands of a travel writer, or a journalist, a totally different book would have emerged, but actually, this is the book I wanted.
Byrne is particularly good when examining U.S. cities, from the horrific but fascinating decline of Detroit, to the hopeful reinvention of New York. One excellent passage in particular sticks in the mind:
"Since the onslaught of the automobile in the middle of the last century, and the efforts of its enablers, like Robert Moses in New York, the accepted response to congestion has been to build more roads, especially roads that are high speed and with limited access. Eventually it became clear that building more roads doesn't actually relieve congestion - ever. More cars simply appear to fill these new roads and more folks imagine that their errands and commutes might be accomplished more easily on these new expressways. Yeah, right. People end up driving more, so instead of the existing traffic levels remaining constant and becoming dispersed on the new ribbons of concrete, the traffic simply increases until those too are filled. That's what New York and a lot of other cities are realizing now. The old paradigm is finally being abandoned."
Thank goodness for that.