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Given that a 1970s back-to-the-natural ethic seems quite weak today (being too over the top in some ways and way too unevolved in others), and that the metaphysics that tries to be at the center of this book does not really seem to have much traction (there is just not enough details for it to really qualify as modern philosophy), it seems surprising to say that this book has mostly stood the test of time. But it really has. The road-trip/soul-exploration archetype and metaphor still works well. The autobiographical character remains fascinating, as does his understated relationship with other characters (and the world more generally). The 1970s view of the world is naive enough to be amusingly quaint, and yet contains some enduring wisdom (something that reviewers of the book 20 years ago could never have known). The scholarly-intellectual part (the "metaphysics of quality") is thin, but is does provide a really interesting story of what it is like to be an iconoclastic professor (speaking as one :-). Above all else, this story does a better job than modern self-help books in helping the reader reflect on many things that matter.
The strongest argument for downloading this, though, is that the audio version has to be the definitive version. Many books are just fine in audio form; very few are actually better to listen to than to read. This one is one of the latter. It is written as an oral history, in the spirit of the Chautauqua that is the author's own view of the story he is telling. I do not recall noticing this when I read it years ago, but it really cries out to be read out loud. The reader does a very good job of it, bringing alive to this 38-year-old a book that normally resonates better with teenagers or baby-boomers who remember it fondly from when it first came out. To really do yourself a favor, listen to it on a long driving trip or while walking in the woods.
76 of 81 people found this review helpful
If you are like me and haven't read this book before then I would recommend skipping the intro. I had the misfortune of listening to it and it gave deep meanings of the book which I couldn't help but look for at every point in the book.
Good book though.
37 of 39 people found this review helpful