Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it before, but now and again a book really breaks the rules of a genre and just doesn’t care. To many, Dan Walsh is marmite, but there’s no denying that writing a motorcycle travelogue that doesn’t really give a monkeys about the bike, is refreshing. All the more so when it contains such compulsive page turning urgency and remains firmly anchored to a love of riding, yet on a machine whose maintenance he disdains.
‘These Are the Days…’ is more than one journey. The 375pp volume begins with early writings when an XT660 takes him through Africa and his remarkable fusion of cynical innocence demands involvement with every social order, but clearly thrives nearest the gutter.
But the bulk of the book experiences the Americas on a BMW, promulgated like you’ve never known. The linguistic onslaught is unrelenting; forcing you to go inside Dan’s world, enter rooms in the darker corners of his mind with the same addiction as his personality.
The social and political observation, wit, wisdom and jaundiced bitterness, delivered through an alcoholic haze, is bizarrely informative and refreshing. Cavalier romance or brutal reality? To Dan, a bike “is a Beretta, half a mill in cash and a forged passport hidden under the floorboards. It’s an escape route.” But from what?
Does the love, violence, accidents, sex, brutal abuse of body organs, the waking up to attempt emotional rebirth in Argentina and the reducing of a bike he didn’t own to worthless scrap, mean his trip went wrong? I don’t think so, but just like marmite you really need to taste it for yourself at least once.
ISBN:978-1-846-05310-8 (HB) Published in 2008 by ‘Century’ £18.99
375pp 32pp colour plates