A round-the-world bicycle tour with one of the most original artists of our day.
Urban bicycling has become more popular than ever as recession-strapped, climate-conscious city dwellers reinvent basic transportation. In this wide-ranging memoir, artist/musician and co-founder of Talking Heads David Byrne--who has relied on a bike to get around New York City since the early 1980s--relates his adventures as he pedals through and engages with some of the world's major cities. From Buenos Aires to Berlin, he meets a range of people both famous and ordinary, shares his thoughts on art, fashion, music, globalization, and the ways that many places are becoming more bike-friendly. Bicycle Diaries is an adventure on two wheels conveyed with humor, curiosity, and humanity.
Byrne is fascinated by cities, especially as visited on a trusty fold-up bicycle, and in these random musings over many years while cycling through such places as Sydney, Australia; Manila, Philippines; San Francisco; or his home of New York, the former Talking Head, artist and author (True Stories) offers his frank views on urban planning, art and postmodern civilization in general. For each city, he focuses on its germane issues, such as the still troublingly clear-cut class system in London, notions of justice and human migration that spring to mind while visiting the Stasi Museum in Berlin, religious iconography in Istanbul, gentrification in Buenos Aires and Imelda Marcos's legacy in Manila. In low-key prose, he describes his meetings with other artists and musicians where he played and set up installations, such as an ironic PowerPoint presentation to an IT audience in Berkeley, Calif. He notes that the condition of the roads reveals much about a city, like the impossibly civilized, pleasant pathways designed just for bikes in Berlin versus the fractured car-mad system of highways in some American cities, giving way to an eerie "post apocalyptic landscape" (e.g., Detroit). While "stupid planning decisions" have destroyed much that is good about cities, he is confident there is hope, in terms of mixed-use, diverse neighborhoods; riding a bike can aid in the survival of cities by easing congestion. Candid and self-deprecating, Byrne offers a work that is as engaging as it is cerebral and informative.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I really did enjoy this travel book plus it has the good old fashioned Penguin book cover.
I bike therefore I am human
An excellent view of politics,technology, and human hubris. Humans have to be mobile to be free. Freedom doesn't have to be so costly that it destroys our humanity. David Byrne is able to show us this truth by using two legs to power two wheels.
Book is only a few years old and it hasn’t aged well mostly because the author seems determined to make a point about contemporary American politics instead of telling us about the country he’s in. Pass.