As the drummer and lyricist for seminal Canadian rock band Rush, Neil Peart has earned the respect and admiration of legions of musicians and fans. That he is also a successful author may come as a surprise to many, but as Peart stresses frequently in his new book, drumming is his job, but his passions stretch far beyond music.
In these 22 heavily illustrated personal essays, Peart regales readers with travelogues of numerous cross-continent motorcycle rides, stories of snowshoeing and skiing in Quebec, birdwatching, and, of course, drumming with Rush and others. The book promises to read like “letters from a distant friend,” and in many ways, it does. The Neil Peart who appears in these pages is no haughty rock star; he’s honest, thoughtful, and quite charming.
There are, however, some caveats that must be noted. Readers looking for a traditional travel book might find the volume’s constantly shifting focus unappealing. Also, as a collection of writing from Peart’s website, Far and Away makes some of the key mistakes of books that originate as blogs. At various points, Peart addresses his Internet readers directly and uses the categories by which he classifies his online writing – News, Weather, and Sports, for example, or Bubba’s Book Club. Though this may seem like a minor flaw, readers can’t help but notice that the material is simply repurposed online content; no deliberate attempt has been made to fashion the various parts into a cohesive whole.
Those criticisms aside, it’s hard not to like the side of Peart that appears in this book. His passion for life oozes from every word, and his at times dorky adventures to find the tallest peak or homiest restaurant make him seem like a friendly, albeit quirky, neighbour.