A review of this book by me, or even a thoughtful critique,could add nothing to what has been so well-said in the numerouseloquent essays among the 200 below. Among the decisively best dozen, reviewer Barron T. Laycock, only a few reviews below, describes "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" about as well as it need be done. Another finely-drawn perspective is provided immediately below by reviewer Cicha1994, who gets to the bottom of Pirsig's magic of delivering an incredibly complex synthesis with timely spoonfuls of sugar thusly: "Mr. Pirsig has an uncanny sense of timing, and he never allows the heavier passages to labor on too long. This is avoided by craftily interspersing his philosophical discourse amongst very down-to-earth and charming observations made during a motorcycle trip ..." Not daring to venture into the rarified air of the erudite reviews already here, I humbly offer a more fundamental observation, one that is "down-to-earth as fertilizer," as we say. How I came to read this book the first time -- of how many? -- I can't imagine. I have no interest in Zen, never owned a motorcycle and so needed no advice about keeping one humming. What I found I did have very strong interests in was everything Persig had to say. "Zen and the Art..." was an immediate best-seller when it was published 26 years ago. That couldn't have inspired my interest in it, for I have instinctive misgivings about best-sellers. But I did read it and have been all the better for it. Every subsequent reading has opened a little door or niche missed before. Call any used book store and mention of "Zen and the Art..." and you'll get immediate recognition of it, often a comment like, "Oh, yeah. That Robert Persig book. No, we can't keep them." Still selling like crazy, after all these years. There is a positively bone-chilling aspect about "Zen and the Art...". The millions who have read this supreme intellectual and artistic masterpiece -- many, many of whom, like me, were profoundly enriched by it -- came perilously close to being denied the experience. If memory serves, Persig's manuscript was rejected 122 times before William Morrow picked it up (probably after having also rejected it a few times). That says volumes about the dismal state of publishing back then, an industry that is in even blacker depths today.
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