I recently took a road trip with my family to California and spent the travel time catching up on some reading. The first book I read was given to me by my grandmother for Christmas, a choice ostensibly inspired by my recent purchase of a motorcycle. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was written in 1974 by Robert M. Pirsig and received widespread acclaim for the novel way in which it presents fresh philosophical ideas. Here’s my review.
Zen is a rather remarkable book in that it brings together many genres of literature into one fairly lengthy but enjoyable book. Depending on what part of the book you’re referring you, it could be categorized as a travelogue, psychological drama, presentation of alternatives to traditional forms of higher education, or innovative philosophical theory.
The whole of Zen appears to be a semi-autobiographical account of a motorcycle trip the author takes with his son, Chris, and two friends. Where they visit is hinted at, but not ultimately important. The important details are the thoughts the narrator shares during the long stretches of road that separate the group’s various stops and personal interactions. The heart of the book is contained in these passages, and it is here that the book is interesting, fresh, and at times strange.