Riding with Rilke: Reflections on Motorcycles and Books

Books reveal much more of their authors than they’d like. I find Bishop to be a tepid, boring sloppy scholar who lucked out into getting a professorship that grants sabbaticals and who turned his ride from Canada to Texas into this limp recap. The big surprise is supposed to be that he’s a professor AND a guy riding a motorcycle. Amazing. He admits to wanting to appear like the biggest bad ass when he rides into town, even if he’s just there to check out the Virginia and Leonard Woolf library at Washington State University. He feels completely comfortable stashing his bike rent-free into a widow’s garage in Austin while he goes on a trip to Europe to track down the essential James Joyce covers.

Any scholar who whinges about nearly falling asleep in the British Museum while being given the privilege of rooting through their archives deserves to be slapped silly. His claim to have caught the archivist bug only after nearly drooling on Virginia Woolf’s suicide note is disgusting. Ye gods, was this man actually entrusted in compiling an edition of Jacob’s Room?

This book is horrifyingly terrible and yet was recommended by my hitherto impeccable Virginia Woolf listserve. Avoid at all costs.