The Shovel Revival

January 5, 2009

All Posts, Features, Reviews

Think of Zephyros Major as a writer hang around. Think of his book, The Shovel Revival: A Motorcycle Manifesto, as his stab at getting a bottom rocker. You know, from one of the major clubs like “Random House” or one of the little ones like “Da Capo.” And, be warned that he only made prospect by starting his own club.

Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with starting your own club. If you are a biker among bikers. Not that there is anything wrong with publishing your own book. If you are a writer among writers.

First, Get Yourself Lynched

William Faulkner was a writer among writers. And, it has been widely repeated that that one day when he was almost sober, he was apparently overheard to say that any man who aspired to be a writer should first manage to get himself lynched. And then, if he survived his lynching, he would at least have something to write about.

Every writer and would-be writer knows this advice. Major must know it. But, instead of getting himself lynched, Zephyros Major chose to ride a 1978 Shovelhead in Los Angeles.

Okay. If you have ever ridden the El Lay freeways for even a month you would probably agree that riding here and getting yourself lynched down in Mississippi are probably about equally interesting and horrifying. There is probably a pretty good story to be told just about riding from Long Beach to Santa Clarita or from Dockweiler Beach to the TA Truck Stop in Ontario.

Think Piece

But then instead of writing about riding, Major decided to write about something else. He decided to make the first of his two self-published books what good, honest hacks usually call a “think piece.” And, the trouble with think pieces in general is that they look easier to write than they actually are. And the problem with this think piece in particular is, to sort of quote the country singer David Ball, “I guess you might say Mr. Major’s got a thinkin’ problem.”

Okay, maybe that is rude and harsh. Here. You decide. Let the author speak:

“There is a Catch-22 somewhere within the relationship between thought and action. It is a game of leap frog, regularly running in circles, often enough running into walls. Essential to the give-and-go is a steady evolution; or at least consistent progress. When we fall into redundancy, easy enough to label it ‘pleasure’ and receive a pat on the back. But can this tendency, when abused, turn into taking the easy way out? And if so, with all life’s hard knocks and imponderables set against us, what the hell is so wrong with that?”

Heavy Man

Possibly right this minute you are thinking, “That is so very true.” And, if that is what you are actually thinking then all you need to know is that The Shovel Revival: A Motorcycle Manifesto, is 9,500 words long and it can be yours for a mere ten bucks from numerous online booksellers. And, you are not alone in your admiration for the prose stylings of Zephyros Major. The consensus opinion seems to be that this “book ,” which is about a sixth as long as what most people mean when they utter the sound “book,” is really, really great.

One reviewer on called it a “fantastic read,” then added, “Sometimes I may read only a few sentences, then sit for hours pondering the thoughts those sentences provoke.” And, I can see where that could happen. And, I only wish I knew the guy who wrote that so that then we could be pals so then I could buy some of the self-evidently mind-blowing, hydroponic skunk he likes to smoke when he reads.

I read Easyriders. I like Easyriders. And a staff writer who goes by the road name Beatnik made all of page 53 of the January issue of Easyriders into a song of praise for The Shovel Revival. “It’s a scholarly piece of work with plenty of philosophy, history and literature thrown in there, but Zephyros is an ol’ greasy gearhead, so it’s still a fun read and not excessively high-falutin’,” Beatnik sang.

A Minority Opinion

Personally, I found The Shovel Revival to be a lot less fun to read than a shop manual. A lot less. I would read a sentence and then I would go, “Huh?” And, then I would read another line and then I would turn on the TV and flip through all the channels five or six times. And, then I would watch some other guys play poker for a while. And, then I would turn back to this very strange, rambling “book” and sigh, “Oh bullshit.”

Where Zephyros Major lost me was with his pronouncement that, “The great story of betrayal and abandonment in modern biker lore is the story of Harley-Davidson’s re-invention, when Willie G. and his cohorts bought the company from AMF, and quickly distanced themselves from everything associated with the old regime. This included the Shovelhead engine, which to this day carries a stigma of undependability as the ‘AMF engine’ bound to break down, destined to derail your travel plans. By labeling AMF as ‘bad,’ the new Harley became recognized as the ‘good.’ I can hardly decide which politician they learned that from.”

A Brief Rant About AMF

And, that’s when I sighed “Oh bullshit.” And, I only said that because I do honestly think that Zephyros Major is a moron who is full of shit. Because I owned a couple of Shovels and then I owned an Evo and now I own a rubber-mounted Twin Cam. Okay?

And, one of the Shovels is still in pieces in the little museum of motorcycle parts I like to call my garage. And, it has been, like, seventeen years and I still haven’t bothered to put it back together again. Okay? One day I just went out and bought another bike instead. So please don’t feed me a line of shit about how great AMF Shovels were. Okay?

Trying To Like A Bad Book

I wanted to like this book as Beatnik from Easyriders liked this book. I like to ride, look at, work on, think about and read about motorcycles. I read every book about Harleys I can find.

I read this book, trapped by the weather in a hotel room in Vegas. This is the rainy season in Los Angeles. This is the snowy season in the high desert. And, I read that “Zephyros Major owns no car…” and his sole means of transportation is a ’78 Shovel and I thought, “Boy I sure hope I can help this guy sell some books because we got to get him at least a pick-up truck. How does he get his tools to the job? How does he get lumber back from Home Depot. How does he get his dog to the vet? And, this rain! And, this snow!”

I wanted to like this book because I wanted to tell you to like this book. But unfortunately Zephyros Major could not hold up his end. So, I have to tell you not to give this guy any of your money.

Please give your ten bucks to either the Salvation Army or the USO instead.

, , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “The Shovel Revival”

  1. Florence Italy Says:

    Look forward to reading more from you in the future,keep up the good work.

Leave a Reply