Holds are starting to mount for the The Bicycle Diaries, a series of philosophical meditations on biking in cities across the world by David Byrne, the musician and artist best known as the wide-eyed, oddball star of the ’80s rock band The Talking Heads. The book is drawing scads of reviews and profiles in many major cities as Byrne tours the country (partly by bike) to promote the book. One library we checked had 89 holds, though most libraries had holds in the twenties. More copies may be needed – all libraries we checked had 13 or fewer.

Reviewers give the books high marks. The Miami Herald finds that the rock star 

“who sang about burning buildings, highways and life during wartime turns out to be an acute observer of the urban condition… Byrne delivers pithy indictments of the damage wrought on cities by the onslaught of the automobile and planners’ blind obedience to it, even as the artist in him can’t resist admiring the strange grandeur of urban ruins like Buffalo and Detroit.”

The San Francisco Chronicle adds, that

“if you’re a cyclist who appreciates the bicycle for the ways it helps to erode the atomization and social mediations imposed by cars, mass media and modern life in general, then you’ll find in Byrne’s ruminations a kindred spirit and a critical thinker who doesn’t stop at the first obvious insight.”

The twist to the coverage in each city is what Byrne thought of cycling there.  The Los Angeles Times reports that he didn’t like biking in L.A., finding it “a residential theme park in what is essentially a desert.” The review also notes that he calls hilly San Francisco “philosophically and politically bike-friendly, but not geographically.”

Reviews of the book and profiles of Byrne have also appeared in the Philadelphia Enquirer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, New York Magazine and Austin 360.

Bicycle Diaries
David Byrne
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult – (2009-09-17)
ISBN / EAN: 0670021148 / 9780670021147

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