Getting Out of Town by Book and Bike is a collection of popular essays which take an often comic look at how reading and bicycling both transport people to places unknown. Thompson introduces the reader to travel writing by the nineteenth-century bicycle adventurer Lyman Hotchkiss Bagg and Canadian rock star Neil Peart, explains why he visits small-town libraries in search of copies of Anna Karenina, and ponders the social significance of the Tim Hortons coffee shops which dot the Canadian landscape. Writing in the spirit of James E. Starrs’ The Literary Cyclist, Thompson also contemplates the role of the bicycle in works by writers from George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells to Elizabeth Bishop and Ernest Buckler. Another chapter takes a more sober look at the vulnerability of bicyclists, reflecting on the recent death of a cyclist in Nova Scotia, to whom the book is dedicated. Another chapter reflects on the Zen of bicycle maintenance. On the whole, it’s an offbeat and entertaining book of curiosity. George Elliott Clarke calls this book “a cool meditation on the Zen of cycling, a zesty memoir about growing up in the rural Maritimes, and an ‘off-duty’ scholar’s energetic studies of a host of writers. ”
Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Thompson came to NB in 1966 to teach at the University of New Brunswick. He has published two poetry collections, a book of short stories and three novels, all set in Fredericton. He has also written several radio plays for the CBC and a special play, Victoria's Return, presented locally during the summer of 1984.
“Getting Out of Town by Book and Bike, handsomely produced by Gaspereau Press of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, is a marvel. In 157 pages Thompson gives us a brief but meaty history of bicycling, a discussion of books about bicycling early and late, autobiographical accounts of freedom he experienced with his own first bike, what bicycles mean to characters in notable fiction and non-fiction, the intimacy a rider achieves with the terrain he negotiates, especially if he attempts his own bike maintenance, the real perils facing bikers on today’s major highways, and perhaps most absorbing of all, his own excursions biking to the locales important to some of his favourite writers. ” Bill Bauer, The Fiddlehead
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