Jefe Smith has been all over the press lately. He’s shared motorcycle road stories from Death Valley, Winslow Meteor Crater, Navajo Canyon de Chelley, Carlsbad Caverns and New Mexico. Needless to say Jefe rides a little bit. He also writes quite a bit. He does combine both of his hobbies exceptionally well in his first book Life, America and the Road which Worth Cadenhead reviews.
I’m a reader. I have been all my life. I’m also a rider, and have been over half my life. So, it stands to reason that something that combines the two would be a great thing. It is. I have a bookcase full of motorcycle related books, but they’re mainly about the machines, or about clubs, or about specific individuals. Some of those that stand out the most are the ones where the author is telling his or her own stories. And that’s what Life, America and the Road, by Jefe Smith, is.
The neat thing about this book is that he starts to tell you the story of his cross-country bike trip, but in the process, tells you many more stories. He’ll describe the landscape he’s riding through, then a piece of the scenery, or an exit or crossroads will remind him of something that happened years ago, and now we’re on that story. I like this method a lot, because I find myself thinking in similar ways when I’m on the road – I’ll see an exit off the Interstate, or a sign telling me that some town is off to the left so many miles, and I’ll remember a rally that used to be held there, or a time that I was caught in a downpour and had to wait out a storm.
Smith takes those triggered memories and sews them together to make a patchwork book, much like my grandmother used to make quilts from bits of this cloth, and parts of that pattern. It’s kind of like the way Robert Pirsig formatted Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, except that Smith isn’t revealing his disturbed past, but just sharing his life’s entertaining stories the same way he would over a cup of coffee or a beer.
Some of his stories are events, some are focused on a person, and of course some are about roads. He even asks, and answers, the question “What is a biker?” You may agree with his definition or you may not, but you can definitely tell he’s put some thought into it, and didn’t rely on bumper sticker philosophy (“If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand”).
Jefe Smith isn’t exactly Ernest Hemmingway, and this isn’t exactly the Great American Novel, but I recommend it to anyone who rides. I’ll be honest – I haven’t had much time to read lately, and between two jobs and two kids and a host of other obligations, I frequently find myself unable to focus on the printed page when I do get time to read. I’ve started several books in the last year that are still sitting (in a stack) on my nightstand. This is one, however, that will get finished.
Life, America and the Road is available in paperback from Jefe’s website for $14.95 and makes a great read for motorcyclists and an even better unique gift idea. It’s also available at a growing number of dealerships that are supporting Jefe’s self-published venture. Kudos to them for helping a fellow motorcyclist’s initiative.
For the more digitally-friendly of us, Jefe’s made the book available via Kindle for only $2.99. The digital download is cross platform meaning it will work on your iPhone, Android phone, tablet, and laptop or desktop provided you can download the Kindle app. You can grab the digital copy here.