Official Review: The Buddha and the Bee by Cory Mortensen

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Official Review: The Buddha and the Bee by Cory Mortensen

Post by mmm17 »

[Following is an official review of "The Buddha and the Bee" by Cory Mortensen.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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The Buddha and The Bee: Biking Trough America’s Forgotten Roadways on an Accidental Journey of Discovery, written by Cory Mortensen is a first-person account of an incredible journey. In a little over a month, the author biked two thousand miles from Minnesota to Truckee, California. He departed on August 22nd, 2001. His route wasn’t set in stone, and he estimated it would take about 27 days (two thousand miles divided by seventy-five miles a day, on average).

The author narrates several ordeals, including flat tires, throughout the trip, and he often has to seek bike shops. He rode helmetless, for helmets were not mandatory for road cycling in 2001. The first days of the journey were particularly rough. Mortensen was exhausted and sunburnt. He narrates the excruciating pain of sitting in the saddle during some legs of the trip. After three weeks on the road, when he was in Colorado, 9/11 happened. He felt as if the world was falling apart as he was out there riding his bike.

What I enjoyed the most about this memoir were the author’s philosophical and existential reflections. Right at the beginning, the author felt that he was unprepared for was the overwhelming sense of loneliness. “The fields of produce represented nothing but loneliness.” He says that Thoreau identified the four necessities of life in 1854: food, shelter, clothing, and fuel. In this case, in 2001, he amended Thoreau’s postulation to reflect his situation: bicycle, tent, clothing, and a debit card. I felt that remarks of this kind were a noteworthy positive point.

I also appreciated how Mortensen also reminisces about his life during the trip. For instance, he explains his relationship with his dad, who didn’t approve of his “lackadaisical approach to life.” The trip didn’t sit well with his dad, but he didn’t interfere. There’s a touching passage in which the author mentions a letter his dad had written him stating that he had faith in his son’s ability to survive in this world and be a happy person.

On the other hand, I felt somewhat uncomfortable with the way the author mentions women in his story. Some of the remarks seemed inelegant to me. For instance, he refers to the girlfriend he had at the time of the trip as a “rebound,” never mentioning her name. This aspect was what I liked the least.

Lastly, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. I’m subtracting a star due to the inelegant descriptions of women. Otherwise, it is an interesting memoir that seems professionally edited. If you like biking, you should consider reading it.

The Buddha and the Bee
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Chigo Nwagboso
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Post by Chigo Nwagboso »

I'm still astonished that someone Mortensen managed to ride for three weeks. This is an act bravery. Great review.
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