Far and Near: More Essays for Your Bookshelf from Rush’s Professor
Neil’s latest collection of essays, Far and Near: On Days Like These, is slated to release from ECW Press on October 14. The book is a compilation of monthly posts from his blog, News, Weather & Sports, in which he shares his thoughts on making music, touring, hiking, and riding his motorcycle, mostly around the United States and Europe. It’s a follow-up to his 2011 compilation of essays Far and Away: A Prize Every Time. Those essays were from July 2007 to November 2010. For this new volume, it looks like the essays will be from January 2011 to April 2014.
If that’s right, the compilation will include the following titles:
The Red Cross Fund
Talking Drums in Death Valley
Single Track Minds in the Sceptered Isle
The Frying Pan and the Freezer
At the Gate of the Year
Andrew MacNaughtan: 2/25/1964-1/25/2012
The Future as Seen From the Past
Where Words Fail, Music Speaks
The Better Angels
Witness to the Fall
Adventures in the Wild West
The Sweet Science
Drummer With a Singletrack Mind
Shunpikers in the Shadowlands
On Days Like These
It’s Not Over When It’s Over
Bubba and the Professor
Not all Days are Sundays
Telescope Peak Revisited
Many of the posts were written during the second half of the Clockwork Angels tour, including the European leg of the tour, so he mixes thoughts on performing with highlights from his travels. After the tour ends, his essays focus on his motorcycling, driving, and hiking excursions, including to Death Valley in California and to his home in the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec.
Neil is enjoyable to read. His tone is conversational yet the prose is tight; there’s never a wasted word. That’s a quality in his lyric-writing as well. Of his recent essays, “Bubba and the Professor,” from February 2014, stands out. Not only does he give us a head’s up that this compilation is in the works, but he conducts something of a self-analysis of his two-sided personality: the adventurer side, in which it’s all about drumming, motorcycling, and driving cars fast, and the temperate side, in which he plans out his adventures in advance and wears protective clothing when he rides. With another writer, such self-analysis might be off-putting, but Neil writes in a way that universalizes his experience, so in the end it’s not so much about him but the experience we all share. You find that same quality in Rush’s music.
Here’s the book blurb on Amazon:
Whether navigating the backroads of Louisiana or Thuringia, exploring the snowy Quebec woods, or performing onstage at Rush concerts, Neil Peart has stories to tell. His first volume in this series, Far and Away, combined words and images to form an intimate, insightful narrative that won many readers.
Now Far and Near brings together reflections from another three years of an artist’s life as he celebrates seasons, landscapes, and characters, travels roads and trails, receives honors, climbs mountains, composes and performs music. With passionate insight, wry humor, and an adventurous spirit, once again Peart offers a collection of open letters that take readers on the road, behind the scenes, and into the inner workings of an ever-inquisitive mind.
These popular stories, originally posted on Peart’s website, are now collected and contextualized with a new introduction and conclusion in this beautifully designed collector’s volume.