MOTORCYCLES I'VE LOVED by Lily Brooks-Dalton


A Memoir
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A travel-hungry young woman’s memoir of her unexpected love affair with motorcycles.

It only takes Brooks-Dalton one page to exclaim her newfound passion for motorcycles. The cringeworthy statement is released upon recognizing for the first time her desire to take to the open road on two wheels: “I wanted to be the one riding that motherfucker.” Notwithstanding that this attempt to sound rebellious misses the mark, the author recounts how she found herself suddenly attracted to motorcycles when, upon leaving the security of a long-term relationship in Australia, she returned home to New England after years of traveling abroad and began researching them as a diversion, a way of losing herself in a new experience. As symbols of freedom and independence, motorcycles fed Brooks-Dalton’s passion for adventure and offered her a channel for her listless behavior, which included typical adolescent indulgences in drinking and drugs, and somewhat ironically grounded her. She connects her wanderlust to the memory of her family growing up, particularly her brother, who developed paranoid delusions about God and quickly left the family for the West. Without an anchor at home and following in the footsteps of her mother, who also traveled abroad at a young age, she decided to leave at 17. Conveying her travels as well as her desire for new experiences, Brooks-Dalton is seduced by aphoristiclike turns of phrase, but her writing is often cliché-ridden and melodramatic: “Transformation takes sweat and tears; it can’t be bought with a plane ticket or an admission of love.” The author also relies on awkwardly inserted physics terms (e.g., “acceleration,” “velocity,” “entropy”), also used as chapter titles, to tie in a concept related to motorcycles and her emotional state. The results are heavy-handed, and these jargon-y interludes fail to achieve their intended resonance.

Despite the interesting details of her back story, Brooks-Dalton’s journey of reinvention is disappointingly mundane and uneventful.

Pub Date: April 7th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1594633218
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Riverhead
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2015


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