A New Zealand–based author offers a semifictional, meditative debut memoir involving motorcycles and Christianity.
High, aka Donkey, begins his story in Orewa, New Zealand, standing with his trusty 2009 Softail Heritage Classic Harley Davidson and a to-go latte. As he explains to the uninitiated, “the Harley is more than a bike—it’s a machine you bond with.” After some reflection on his parents, his upbringing, and his past marriages (each memorialized in tattoo form on his arm), he comes across another rider on a Harley, who introduces himself as JC. It won’t take long for readers to ascertain that JC is no ordinary motorcyclist; he’ll neither confirm nor deny that he’s Jesus Christ, but he certainly doesn’t mind talking about Christianity. Soon, readers are taken on a journey through New Zealand that includes episodes from the author’s life (such as a fishing trip to Lake Taupo on New Zealand’s North Island) and his questions to JC about religion (“I guess the fall of man really mucked all this up. Right?”). Overall, a lot takes place in this relatively brief book, which is partly a travelogue, partly an autobiography, and partly a consideration of what it means to be a Christian. High is at his best when supplying the sorts of details that one won’t find in other travel memoirs; at one point, for instance, he explains his quest for the right church to attend: “I continued to ‘church-hop’, trying to find a happy medium between the ones that bored me, and the alternatives, where everyone kept wanting to hug me.” At the same time, he also provides the finer points of staying at the “revamped Danseys Pass Coach Inn” in southern New Zealand. Although readers may find that many of the author’s takeaways about Christianity aren’t particularly riveting (such as the concept of Jesus’ “instant and future forgiveness”), his account as a whole is strikingly honest and forthcoming.
A breezy but nuanced road trip.