Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

By Robert M. Pirsig

Rating: 2 stars

I wasn’t hugely enjoying this book, even before I hit the thirty missing pages in my volume. Well, not so much missing, as mis-printed. Instead of pages 360-390(ish), I had two copies of pages 330-360. Although, to be honest, after I finished cursing, my second emotion was one of relief that I didn’t have to wade through another 30 pages of turgid philosophy, interspersed with some moderately interesting travel stuff and more interesting father/son and self-reflection.

The book is structured as a travelogue where the main character and his son travel round bits of the US, pontificating about Quality while trying to reconcile himself to the person he used to be before a nervous breakdown and court-enforced ECT. Frankly, the latter was a lot more interesting than the former. The bits about our protagonist reflecting on his previous life, which he has abstracted out into a separate persona he calls Phaedrus, along with his strained relationship with his son, make for an interesting character-driven plot. However, the large chunks of philosophy that he throws in make for the opposite. While I can sort of see what the author was trying to say about Quality (with a capital Q), I really don’t think he needed so many words to make his point.

Maybe the missing thirty pages would have made all the difference. Maybe I’d have been thunderstruck and be pontificating that this was the greatest book ever written, but somehow I doubt it. Now I’m in a quandary: I certainly have no intention of keeping this volume, but how can I donate it or give it away to someone in the full knowledge that there is a chunk missing. Am I going to have to *gulp* throw it away?? It goes against all my bibliophile instincts, but then so does giving it away, knowing it’s incomplete. Either way, its stay on my shelves will only be temporary.

Book details

ISBN: 9780099786405
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Year of publication: 1974

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