October 6, 2008

Home at last, after the rain

Made it back, after an estimated 10,000 kilometres, or 6,000 miles, on the two motorcycles in one month. The speedometer never did start working again since breaking at the final stop yesterday.
Read about the final day - and the rain and the cold and my watching peanut gallery - on my road trip blog here.
This has been quite the book tour. I'll take some time to get my thoughts together and then write about it, which will appear on the News page.

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October 4, 2008

Water Street Books, Exeter, N.H.

Another special night, thanks to this being the current home of Jim Landis, who was the original editor of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He came out to the bookstore (actually, just strolled a couple of blocks from his house) with his wife Denise, who had recently finished reading Zen and Now.

"It's a very big deal for Denise to come to a reading," he told me. "She must have really liked your book."

Again, Jackie New was welcomed inside by the bookstore owner, Dan Chartrand, whose son Anthony was helping out as well.

This time, I didn't need to refer to any notes for prompting or reminders - I just spoke from the heart and it was a terrific process. Afterwards, Dan offered me any book in the store as a gift for my visit, and I chose one by Jim himself. However, since Jim's books seem to be either children's poetry or loaded with sex, he thought it best I be given one of each, to better represent the novelist. I'm looking forward to reading them both.

That's Jim Landis with me and my motorcycle, and Dan and Anthony in the window of his wonderful store.

A strange thing, though: The speedometer stopped working on the few miles over to Exeter from where I'm staying in Hampton. This means the odometer has stopped working, too, and the mileage is locked at the final distance east. Is this another sign?

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October 3, 2008

New York, New York (so good they named it twice)

The event tonight at McNally Jackson Books in SoHo was great fun, thanks in no small part to the store manager letting me push Jackie New inside and add some perspective to the readings. It hasn't been the same with the Harley, since she wasn't part of the actual book, but it was good to have the Suzuki there.

Of course, more importantly, it wasn't just me - Marty Asher, the Knopf senior "editor-at-large" who read my book and bought it, plus Jeff Alexander, the editor who did much of the grunt work on preparing it for publication, were also though, making us a panel of three to talk about the book and the process of bringing it to fruition.

Readings like this are great, and they're the sort of thing that can only happen in New York City, because that's where the publisher is based. Kudos to McNally Jackson for enabling this.

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Maintenance in New York

It's a lot to expect to ride a dirt bike for hundreds of miles without pausing to maintain it, so I took some time this afternoon to tighten up Jackie New's drivechain here in New York.

The adjustment is easy enough, but typically, something always goes wrong. When I started spraying on the chain lube (with a newspaper underneath to catch the drips), the nozzle on the canister clogged up. Most of the lube ran down the can and onto the paper; only some found its way to the chain. Which explains why I used the rest of the can of lube and only oiled half the chain.

There's a Ducati dealership not far from the bookstore where I'll be talking tonight, and Ducatis have drivechains (no point in going to the Harley place, or the BMW place). I'll go in and get another can of lube, but why can't it just work properly the first time around?

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October 1, 2008

Getting ready for the Apple

My bike's been parked outside the hotel here in Montreal, looking forlorn. Her drive chain looked dry and needed lubrication, but this is not the sort of thing that's done easily on a city street. There's no centre stand and the bike needs to be pushed around to expose the entire chain, and without newspaper to catch the drips, it can be a bit messy. So I snuck out long after dark with a can of chain lube and oiled up her drive chain. Should be good now for the 400 miles to New York tomorrow.
But it seems a bit ridiculous, at 46 years, to be sneaking around after dark with chain lube.

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Television, internet, radio, print and signings - they threw them all at me here today.

Everything from four minutes live with Mutsumi Takahashi on CFCF, seen in the top photo, who'd gone to all the trouble of reading my book so that she could spark those few minutes with some interesting questions, to half an hour or so on watchmojo.com (bottom photo) and RCI, again with the zinger questions that got me really thinking.

Of course, I can't remember any of the questions now. I can't remember anything I said, in fact. But I'll post the stories as I find them on the News and Reviews pages of this site.

My family is from Montreal - well, my grandparents settled here, and this is where my aunt lived, and where I first found that pink copy of Zen and the Art on her bookshelf. It's entirely fitting that I could come here for this.

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September 30, 2008

Back on the (wet) road

Off to Montreal today, after an interview on U of T campus radio. Read about the ride here.

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September 29, 2008

Back home, sort of

I flew home on Saturday and it's good to be back, not packing up my cases every morning, strapping them down to the bike and moving on to the next city.

Yesterday, I rode in to town to talk to George Strombolopoulos on his Edge radio show, then today I spoke with the CBC and a couple of other radio shows. Really interesting conversations, actually. The CBC guy came down to the street to see the bike and record the sound of her exhaust, which is a pretty cool sound when she's running well. You should be able to find those interviews from links on my News or Reviews pages, which I'll post once they're ready.

As well, I dropped into some bookstores to sign books. "Always sign books!" they tell me. "Signed books will be displayed at the front of the store." But more to the point, signed books give you the chance to meet the store staff, who will then read your book and recommend it to people if they like it. Apparently.

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September 26, 2008

Saying goodbye

Dropped off Lucy the Low Rider at the end of the day. That's her, waiting to be pushed into the Harley dealership to be drained and crated, then come home on a truck. I'll be happier when I see her again, in one piece...

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Media in Vancouver

Boy, this city is booming. Construction everywhere, and still it seems nobody with less than a million dollars can find a place to live.

Started the day with a live TV interview, which meant makeup and stuff. Fanny Kiefer - that's her at the table with me - is a very smart woman who was familiar with both books, which is always a nice surprise. Then an in studio radio chat, a coffee chat, another live radio interview and a live by phone radio interview. I messed that one up right at the end by saying "Thank you Landon," and realized immediately that the guy I'd been chatting with was named Murray Langdon. It was on a 7-second delay, so perhaps that was edited out.

It's strange to talk about my book so much - with people who are interested to hear about it - after so many years of writing it in the solitude of a quiet room. It's anot a vindication at all of all that effort, but it is rewarding to know that it did all come to something.

Every interview seems to have a zinger question that I never quite expect, which is welcome to get me thinking. But when Christy Clark, in the studio at the top picture, asked me on live radio why Pirsig chose the name Phaedrus for his pre-shock personality, I started explaining about how it had come from the Dialogue of Phaedrus and then stalled before mentioning its author. It was Plato, right? Surely? Yes, of course it was Plato, but on live radio you wonder about your own name, let alone some old Greek guy.

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