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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

July 14, 1996|CHRIS GOODRICH

TRUCK: On Rebuilding a Worn-Out Pickup and Other Post-Technological Adventures by John Jerome (University Press of New England: $10.95 paper, 145 pp.). It's a mystery why everyone has heard of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and so few about "Truck," its much more accessible soul mate. Robert Pirsig wrote in his most famous book that "the real cycle you're working on is a cycle called 'yourself' "; John Jerome takes a similar view in "Truck," with the significant caveats that Jerome is a much friendlier guide than Pirsig, isn't enslaved to some Big Idea, and really does want to impart mechanical knowledge.

Jerome--a survivor of the hippie era who abandoned the city for New Hampshire and one-time writer for Car & Driver--in the early 1970s found the need to test his ideals, and a clapped-out 1950 Dodge (bought for $200) seemed the perfect crucible. No doubt hyper-conscious of Pirsig's book, Jerome disavows any great philosophical ambition, and that's one of "Truck's" great strengths: It really is about nuts and bolts, frozen batteries and ignorance, technologies old and new, and the many failures upon which lasting success is predicated.

It's good to see this overlooked classic back in print (re-released along with Jerome's 1989 meditation, "Stone Work"), though one wishes Jerome had appended an afterward, if only to tell us how long the truck--which did work, post-rebuild--actually lasted.

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