Neil Peart's Ghost Rider i am such a slowpoke when it comes to reading. it took me 9 months to finish tolkien’s lord of the rings when i was 18. well, i did have my a levels then to concentrate on. nevertheless, i don’t read fast. unless it’s a compelling read.

and in my case, a very compelling read. which is pretty rare, by my standards.

i’ve just finished reading neil peart’s ghost rider: travels on the healing road. peart’s the drummer for canada’s progressive rockers, rush. he’s the lyricist (nicknamed the professor due to his prolific lyrics) for rush and is one of the greatest drummers of all time. the book (which is a sophomore effort for peart) is about a tragedy he endured in 1998.

in the space of 10 months, he lost his only daughter, selena, and later, his wife, jackie.

how does one cope with such personal tragedy, i wondered. he blamed ‘a broken heart’ for his wife’s death even though a diagnosis of cancer was given by her doctors. as a form of therapy, peart chose to take his bmw motorbike and get on the road. a road that went on for 55,000 miles from quebec to belize, via alaska and the west coast of the united states. he called himself the ghost rider, a ghost of a man. nothing but an empty shell with no hope. no meaning to continue on with what is left of his life that he’s had with the ones he loved dearly.

as peart makes his way through the various landscapes, i could feel how he had to endure a myriad of emotions, from anger to the incessant sadness, reliving his loss. at times hilarious, his journals were also filled with the sights and sounds of the places he visited as well as the various characters he encountered. as the journey reached its destination, i also appreciated how his views on life were slowly evolving into acceptance of his personal tragedies, finally getting on with his life. the book ends with a happy ending actually, where he finally found someone who would be his current love of his life.

throughout his ordeal, peart considered himself ‘retired’. rush was in a hiatus, during which time they released their triple cd live album, different stages. peart finally regained his courage and confidence to return to work and they released vapor trails in 2002 after which, they completed an american tour. this year marks their 30th anniversary, in which they are touring again (got tickets to see them in september!). all’s well that ends well, as you can see here.

Alex Lifeson (guitar), Geddy Lee (bass/vocals) and Neil Peart (drums)

the book ends with these apt words from bravado, a track from their 1991 album, roll the bones:

and if the music stops
there’s only the sound of the rain
all the hope and glory
all the sacrifice in vain
if love remains
though everything is lost
we will pay the price
but we will not count the cost