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Need for the Bike Paperback – September 1, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Few sportswriters fancy themselves members of the literary avant-garde, but Frenchman Paul Fournel is the real deal. In his carefully cadenced prose poem Need for the Bike, translated by Allan Stoekl, he shares a passion for the sport matched only by his love of language."-Bicycling Bicycling "A fascinating mix of bicycling memories, observations, and experiences the author has gathered during a lifetime of cycling... This very personal book, doled in short, easily digestible doses, packs a meal that ultimately satisfies deeply."-ForeWord ForeWord

From the Inside Flap

A book like no other, Paul Fournel’s Need for the Bike conducts readers into a very personal world of communication and connection whose center is the bicycle, and where all people and things pass by way of the bike. In compact and suggestive prose, Fournel conveys the experience of cycling—from the initial charm of early outings to the dramas of the devoted cyclist.

An extended meditation on cycling as a practice of life, the book recalls a country doctor who will not anesthetize the young Fournel after he impales himself on a downtube shifter, speculates about the difference between animals that would like to ride bikes (dogs, for instance) and those that would prefer to watch (cows, marmots), and reflects on the fundamental absurdity of turning over the pedals mile after excruciating mile. At the same time, Fournel captures the sound, smell, feel, and language of the reality and history of cycling, in the mountains, in the city, escaping the city, in groups, alone, suffering, exhausted, exhilarated.

In his attention to the pleasures of cycling, to the specific "grain" of different cycling experiences, and to the inscription of these experiences in the body’s cycling memory, Fournel portrays cycling as a descriptive universe, colorful, lyrical, inclusive, exclusive, complete.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803269099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803269095
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #573,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you have an ear for poetry and a love for the bicycle, then this 150-page gem will earn your respect. Fournel is a writer's writer with a taste for going fast on a classic road bike (handmade steel frame and Campagnolo components). He "needs" his bike in order to overcome a mild tendency towards depression. (Sound familiar?)
Out of this endorphin rush comes a subtle taste for everything from the variety of hills that we need to climb to the texture of the roads that we ride to our childhood memories. Winds, companionship, competition, beauty, class, smells, sounds, food & drink and dope are all touched upon. If you're a cyclist it will deepen your ability to experience and express what you already love about the sport. If you're not a cyclist, then you can transfer his "need for the bike" to your own obsession. A true Pleasure.
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Format: Paperback
Fournel takes Hemmingway, puts him on a bike, and implants a French sensibility. The words a spare, the pieces short, but each is a declarative taste of life on two wheels, including the times your mind wanders from the road and into the passing scenery. You'll drown in the tar, greet the car door, and meet the man with the hammer. If you love to ride, you have to have this book. If you could care less about bicycling, but like to read outstanding imagery in prose, you won't be dissapointed either.
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Format: Paperback
Paul Fournel's book is a series of short vignettes, all of which are concerned with the inner life of bicyclists. And the evidence is in: They definitely have one. No matter how much or little you indulge in biking, his book will convey to you, in short and vivid strokes, the splendors and miseries of this sport (starting with the miseries; i.e., accidents). Along the route, fathers and sons, Paris and the provinces, labor and leisure--all the life tensions emerge, only to be inflected by the pastime's particular wisdom. Almost better than biking!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quite a remarkable little book. A loose assemblage of thoughts and essays. These include the author's reflections on: his earliest attemps to ride, the inevitable collisions, embarrassments, his first custom built bike, lost or stolen and destroyed bikes, racing triumphs and frustrations, pain & suffering on the wheel, and the heights of pure pleasure which cycling brings. There is something which all devoted bicyclists can understand and have probably experienced themselves. If Marcel Proust had been a bike nut we'd have thousands of pages to glide through on the subject; here we have tiny bites of tasty flavors which may stimulate our own joyous memories. Like cycling along with Grandpa and listening to his long forgotten recollections on the subject. A little treasure.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a little gem. Good writing about bikes, cycling, the Tour de France, racing, growing up in Loire, riding in Paris, etc. I can't recommend it highly enough. It is published by University of Nebraska Press (Bison Books) - they along with publishing western lit and history also publish a number of French lit books. Paul Fournel is a member of Oulipo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) along with other writers such as Raymond Queneau, Harry Mathews, George Perec, and Italo Calvino.
A good writer and a good publisher. The translation flows along nicely and although I can not attest to the accuracy (not being able to read French), I thought it quite good.
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Format: Paperback
This is a collection of short essays on the joys of bicycling through an entire lifetime. It has a simple, direct style that makes it easy to read.An excellent book for that last bit of reading before turning out the bedside light.
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An excellent book, it is well reason and it really touches on the reasons that riding a racing bicycle is so appealing to such a broad spectrum of people. The translation is an equally important component, and it is accurate. Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
Paul Fournel has provided a poetic glimpse of many of the subtle mundanities that join together to make cycling such a pleasurable thing to do, even in the most adverse conditions. After reading this book, I feel I have a more defined frame of reference for what could be called a "spiritual" aspect or a "sense of presence" while cycling. I may be able to recall this while on the bike, but it will more likely arise after a ride, whether grueling or purely pleasurable. In both cases, thanks to the sensitive perceptions in these vignettes, I will surely smile.
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