Please note that you will not find any unfavourable reviews here. I only write reviews on books that I enjoyed reading.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Old Man on a Bike - Simon Gandolfi

Mr Gandolfi has had ten other books published and the reason for his success was obvious to me before I had finished giggling my way through the prologue of Old Man on a Bike.

With his remarkable insight and searing self awareness, Mr Gandofli reminded me, time and time again, of my grampie Kirkby. Once the patriarch of our family, always my hero, a man who died having forgotten more than I am likely ever to be able to learn.

This book is singularly unique in that it draws the reader inside an older person's mind. I found it an enriching, often comforting and pleasant place to be.

The writing style in Old Man on a Bike is mature and mischievous, gritty, factual and witty. The book is filled with concise, clipped sentences of professional brevity:

'Although travelling, I am on familiar territory. We are always on familiar territory, all of us. Yet we divide ourselves from this reality by erecting fake barriers and boundaries of nationality and race and religion.'

'They infuse their finds in hot water and insist I bath the burns. They are small commanding women. They cook, clean and do the laundry. Disobedience would be foolish.'

'For the past few days I have been pursued by a middle-aged hen. Today the hen slinks into my room while Nora collects my laundry. I discover the hen on my bed. She has laid an egg.'

The book also regularly offers flowing paragraphs of perfect descriptive indulgence. I savoured every word.

I read the last page of this book with a smile on my face and a sense regret that I had reached the end of this enthralling paperback.

Old Man on a Bike is published by
The Friday Project (an imprint of Harper Collins) and is available to buy now.

You can find out more about Mr Gandolfi on his blog and website


Maddy said...

Always willing to gather new insight myself.

Momentary Madness said...

This - part of a - quote caught my eye: "erecting fake barriers and boundaries."
I would add: not only of nationality. Out personalities are so far removed from who we are that I feel we have gone beyond redemption.
The propping ("erecting fake barriers and boundaries") up of our personas isolates us from the rest of the world in a way like Siddarthra Gautama: ”He grew up in prosperity and abundance, oblivious to the poverty and suffering just beyond the walls of the royal compound. In a radical move he ventured out and there he saw death, he saw and experienced pain and suffering for the first time. Disturbed by it all, the great disparities, he left his previous life (persona), in search of answers.”

PS: I'm leaving today;-)
"on my bike"

Megan said...

What a warm and wonderful review. I love that you likened the author to your grandfather. I love that chicken quote too ( :

Amanda said...

Literature wise I am ignorant. I am asking for some guidance in this area. Not since I was young have I had time or energy to pour into a book. It used to be my favorite indulgance. (besides from dancing). Anyway, I would love if you would give me some assignments to get me going. Maybe starting with one of your books??? I'm so happy to have correspondence with a writer, makes me feel important hehehehe. Anyway, any thoughts???

DJ Kirkby said...

Hi Maddy
This book is a good'un.

As usual you leave me at loss for words. However, I do think that you would 'get' a lot of what Mr Gandolfi says in his book.

Hi Megan
Oh this book is full of gems like that chicken excerpt. What a trip he had, amazing. The bit about the older women, is actually an excerpt from when they were healing his leg with 'back woods witchery' and cometing against modern pharmecuticals and poor Mr Gandolfi was caught in the middle and trying to keep everyone happy but letting the women doctor him but also taking the antibiotics etc. He makes what surely must have been a harrowing time read as a hilarious blip in his journey.

Hi Amanda
If you email me on with they types of things you like or are interested in then I should be able to advise you on some books to compliment those as a good way to start devloping a love of reading. If you want a quick answer then I would reccomend Stephen Shieber's book of short stories 'Being Normal' which I reviewed earlier on this blog as a good way to start.