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She's a Bad Motorcycle: Writers on Riding Paperback – January 9, 2002

3.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The disparate writings gathered here by freelance journalist and motorcycle rider Zanetti include thoughts on the nature of riding, travel narratives, and stories from various segments of motorcycling culture, notably the Hell's Angels. A few are by familiar names, such as Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson, and some are a pleasure to read, as is a lyrical piece from Melissa Holbrook Pierson. Aside from the references to motorcycles, however, Zanetti's choice of pieces seems arbitrary in both selection and organization. A large number of them are extracted from much longer works, losing context and perhaps even sense. In the selection from Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, for example, the reader will have no understanding of the references to Phaedrus and why the difference between "classic" and "romantic" is so important. Background notes about the writers and the works from which pieces have been excerpted would have been helpful. Despite some interesting material, the book as a whole contributes little to the history and culture of this compelling machine. David Van de Streek, Pennsylvania State Univ. Libs., York
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Contains some very fine writing ... the biker lifestyle is revealed in all its blood-stained debauchery ... Geno Zanetti deserves praise." -- Brian Catterson, Cycle World, March 2003

"[Y]ou're sure to find one entry in this free-wheeling anthology on biker culture that'll get your motor running." -- Maxim Magazine

Geno Zanetti offers a must-read . . . many of the best books ever written on motorcycles are excerpted here. -- Andy Solomon, Times, March 17, 2002
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (January 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560253177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560253174
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.6 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,035,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The idea of this book -- a collection of short stories that explore the rich phenomenon of why people ride motorcycles -- is terrific; but the execution is disgusting. Anyone genuinely clueless and curious about why people ride would get a perverse enlightenment from SHE'S A BAD MOTORCYCLE. Just one story from a Hell's Angel perspective would have been plenty. Instead, most of the selections are from motorcycle gang members who are too busy bragging about raping, terrorizing, torturing, and pillaging to bother with good writing. Few ever get around to the subject of what motorcycle riding means to them.

Zanetti also seems to have trouble finding a ride out of California. The other 49 states are severely under represented.

The only reason this book is worth even 2 stars is that it includes a couple token gems that deserve far better company. Entries from Melissa Holbrook Pierson, Robert F. Fulton, and a handful of others aren't enough to make the book worth buying; but they are well worth reading on their own.
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Format: Paperback
I make a point of bringing a motorcycle book to read when my husband and I go on our annual bike tour. This year, I brought Bad Motorcycle. It's an interesting and eclectic collection of stories, essays and a poem (yes, it sucked. More on that later).
The writing styles and quality are as varied and diverse as motorcycle riders and the bikes we ride. Its not surprising that the book starts with a piece from Melissa Holbrook-Pierson's The Perfect Vehicle. She is able to describe the indescribable nuances about riding in a fluid, poetic and natural style. If you love motorcycles, do yourself a favor and buy The Perfect Vehicle. It's not without its flaws, but so well-written, the flaws are easy to overlook (which is more than I can say for a lot of writers.)
After reading a segment from Robert Fulton's One Man Caravan, I ordered the book because I couldn't get enough of his tales of derring-do during the 1930s.
For those who aren't into motorcycles, there are basically two types of motorcyclists. Harley-Davidsons and everyone else. I would fall under the 'everyone else' category. To me, motorcycling is like religion. Not everyone is into the same thing, but I totally respect people's choices. It's what makes the world go 'round. However, not being of the Harley faith, I found the piece by Hell's Angel pioneer, Sonny Barger to be OUTSTANDING. In the too short chapter of the book, Sonny bares a surprising amount of his soul with funny, insightful and intelligent writing. It has given me a new perspective on Harley riders.
Buried in the back of the book is a piece by Rachel Kushner which briefly chronicles her adventures racing in Baja. I was so intrigued, as soon as I finished it, I reread it.
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By A Customer on January 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
I want to comment only on one chapter of this book, the next to last. In this chapter, Rachel Kushner describes a race she was in down the Baja and her relationship with men, motorcycles and herself. Read it to believe it. It's amazing: action-packed, thoughtful and thoroughly absorbing. My only question is who is this writer?
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Format: Paperback
My favorites chapters in this anthology were Ted Simon's from Jupiter's Travels, Robert Fulton's from One Man Caravan, and of course, Robert Pirsig's from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (which is a great read as well as a great ride). Eric Burdon's piece on Steve McQueen wasn't half bad either.
But there's far too much chaff with this wheat. About half of the chapters in this collection waste space on Hell's Angels and related gangery, much of which is bad fiction, dull fact, or has nothing to do with motorcycles. The lone standout is Sonny Barger's chapter which really is classic.
In the end, I think this book's value is twofold -- 1) you get perspective on the variety of riders, their perspectives, and their writing styles, and 2) it suggests further sources of motorcycle literature. But because the caliber of contributions perhaps befittingly matches the lack of sophistication or maturity of many bikers, I suggest that you borrow a copy (or buy used) and then do a lot of skimming.
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