I have read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 2 or 3 times in the past 35 years, and feel that I know it reasonably well. So it came as a surprise to learn that others who have read and enjoyed it find such different things in it. My interest in it has always been around the discussion of quality that winds its way through the book. The rest - the insanity, the road trip, the relationship between Pirsig and his son - somehow escaped my notice as elements that might be considered central to understanding the book. But after reading Zen and Now I can see that many, probably most, readers do see those other elements as being by far the more important aspects of the book.

The author, Mark Richarson, set out on his motorcycle to retrace the Pirsig trip from Minnesota to San Francisco. Many others have also done this, and there are websites with GPS way-points to guide the way, right down to the rest stops, cafes, and gas stations where Pirsig and company stopped on their trip. Richardson consciously adopts a narrative style and structure that mirrors the original book. It’s actually a little distracting at first, because sometimes it’s hard to tell when he is quoting from the original and when he is telling his own story. But pretty soon he settles into a good rhythm, cross-cutting between his own journey, the original trip, the (original) book, the ideas in the book, and Pirsig’s biography. By the end, I enjoyed this book very much.



Book cover

Metadata Info

  • Title: Zen and Now: on the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Author: Mark Richardson
  • Published: 2008
  • ISBN: 0307397475
  • Buy: Amazon search
  • Check out: Seattle library
  • Rating: 4.0 stars