by Neil Peart
“Far and Away” is my favorite of Peart’s books. The “open letter” format gives him terrific agility between subjects, form, tone, and perspective. There is a careful informality to each piece, as if he is chatting with the reader over a late-night drink, sitting on a terrace overlooking the lights of Southern California. There is intimacy, too, the intimacy of strangers. The emotional timbre of each piece has increased, as opposed to some of his earlier work (even “Ghost Rider“) where the subjects where more obviously private – and therefore the reader needed to be kept a little farther away from the author by careful use of grammar and style.
For the audience not familiar with Peart’s day job, “Far and Away” is a treasure of travel literature, both between geographic locales and between ideas. The casual tone of the work belies its attention to the craft of writing. Much as Rush fans practice playing “YYZ” repeatedly just for the joy of it, Peart practices writing for the pleasure of creating a finely tuned, precise, meaningful phrase. The essays stand on their own, and anyone who appreciates the patient, meticulous, loving effort of good writing will be satisfied – and grateful.