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Publisher's Summary

This lyrical, evocative, thought-provoking journal of a man's quest for truth - and for himself - has touched and changed an entire generation, and is ready to reach out to a new one. At its heart, the story is all too simple: a man and his son take a motorcycle trip across America. But this is not a simple trip at all, for around every corner, through mountain and desert, wind and rain, and searing heat and biting cold, their pilgrimage leads them to new vistas of self-discovery and renewal.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is an elemental work that has helped to shape and define the past 25-years of American culture. This special audio edition presents this adventure in an exciting new way - for the millions who have already taken this journey and want to travel these roads again, and for the many more who will discover for the first time the wonders and challenges of a story that will change the way they think and feel about their lives. Unique to audio, this edition features a new introduction by the author.

©1974 by Robert M. Pirsig; (P)1996 by Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Profoundly important...intellectual entertainment of the highest order." (The New York Times)
"Brave wanderings, high adventures, extraordinary risks...A horn of plenty." (Los Angeles Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Sarah
  • East Patchogue, NY, United States
  • 02-09-06

well read!

Often it is difficult to listen to a narrator of an audible book for some time before you grow weary of his voice or find flaws in his reading style. This book was EXCELLENTLY narrated and you felt that you were listening to the author and not someone merely reciting words yet not mellow dramatically done. The book requires much thought and being able to rewind and listen to certain passages over again is wonderful. I originally read the book in my early twenties but was looking for a travel book not a philosphy book so it had little affect upon me, listening to it now on my commute into the city, it opens up much thought and forces the reader/listener to really think and not just swallow without chewing first. It will inspire the listener if he is of that temperment, to want to further read both philosophers and Pirsig's other books which sadly are not yet here available.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Well worth the effort

I have read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance twice. Each time, I have gained insight from it's wisdom, applicable to my particular station in life at the time of reading.

However, in the audio version, I was able to visualize the author's words much more clearly than ever before. For example, the recurring vision of the author's son behind the glass door was somehow much more tangible in the audio version.

I recommend it to anyone serious enough about philosophy to 'sweat mental bullets' in order to understand a concept. Otherwise, I suggest sticking to reading/listening that is generally less challenging.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A classic - worth the effort

I read this book in college (was a english lit major) and liked it quite a bit. I have listened to it (many years later) and found it even better.
It is not a light easy read. It can be tough to get through at times. It challenges the reader/listening - but is a very intelligent book. I recommend it to anyone who wants more than a best seller thriller every week (which I enjoy as well) from time to time.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lucas
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 10-03-09

Great book, poor reading

This book had a big impact on me as a young adult and I've read it about three times. Tried it again in mid-life and it didn't have quite the impact but I think part of that was the reader; I don't usually complain about it but is reading sounded labored; there was a strange little cough at the end of so many sentences, like he's been a life-long smoker or something. I tend to think it's just his way of giving inflection and denoting the end of sentence/paragraph but it was really distracting.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • Vestavia Hills, AL, USA
  • 04-03-04

Need to reread every 5 years or so.

It is hard for me to think of many books that I will keep with me in my daily life as much as this one. I'm amazed that if you keep the time and context in mind, how much you can take forward into today. This is the begining of so many trends that we are now living.

I think everyone who reads this book will get something a little different out of it. If you reread it every 5 years or so, as you go through college or have children or become part of the "establishment" you will find you are pulling different things out with each read.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

This review surprises me too

Any additional comments?

This book should have hit all of my buttons; I'm a motorcyclist, I'm a parent of boy, I'm in my 50s and I love the outdoors. Unfortunately, a book that should have been easily related to turned out to be a good example of navel gazing. Maybe it's just dated. After less than an hour I couldn't stand the the narrator anymore, or the pseudo sermon tone or the Sunday school presentation and just turned it off.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

This Zen & the Art needs some feng shui

Would you consider the audio edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to be better than the print version?

Returning to this work as an audio text some 25 years after the first reading I was very disappointed in the experience and the performance. A great, rightly praised and recommended work of philosophical fiction, the narrator of this rendition did not fit. Throughout, the tone generally taken was that of a film noir whodunit. Didn't fit. Worse, for anyone wanting to follow along in print, the audio chapters don't follow the format of the original text. The further one goes into the audio file the further behind the numbering goes, so that chapter breaks come in the middle of many of the audio chapters, leaving "readers" confused and searching for accompanying text. A rich, philosophical text, it is highly advisable to follow along (in print) at times just to be able to take in the deeper meaning and implications of many passages. With this audio production that is next to impossible at times, as by the end of the reading chapters are off by a count of ten, the original print edition having 32 chapters and this audio version having only 22! That one there is a head scratcher! Where did they get their copy?

What other book might you compare Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to and why?

This is a highly unique work of deep philosophical engagement produced over many years by a perfectionist. To be honest, it really doesn't compare to anything else out there, at least not in the Western tradition. That said, Zen and the Art is equally a great investigation of psychology and individuality. There it compares to Kesey's Cuckoo's Clock.

How could the performance have been better?

As stated above, the reading, to my tastes anyway, was too dark and deep, acted out as a mystery more than a philosophical reflection. I think it should have been delivered more in that spirit. I believe there was some attempt to do just this, with musical breaks and interludes between various sections of the work, but they came at odd times, sometimes at the end of chapters, sometimes at a transitional point in the narration from present tense to past. These I found quite distracting as I tried to weigh the words and thoughts behind what was being read. Lastly, the narrator was changed between the first three parts of the book and the final one, which was extra-ordinarily distracting and disjointed.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

System overload

Any additional comments?

This work being a mainstay of lit and philosophy classes in the US, I would highly recommend redoing the reading with someone who gets the philosophy and narrative techniques better.

  • Overall
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A remarkable journey

This is not a book which you read in order to reach the end. As such, it can be very taxing. Take your time and enjoy the ride .... Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance rewards its reader for years to come. Love it or not, it is something you will never forget.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

beautiful

This is by far the most well written autobiographical book I have ever read. I was literally on the edge of my seat.
Although it takes a good deal of thought to process, it it worth every minute.
Beautiful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I’m so glad I did this! Way deeper than I thought

The book will make you think make you feel and make you ponder a way out of this duality that’s killing society today. I think a must read.