Robert Maynard Pirsig, author of the great 1974 novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, died on April 24, 2017 at the age of 88. This novel was a cornerstone of the late Beat/Hippie literary era, and it continues to touch the hearts of countless readers all over the world.
Though this novel's fetching title makes a big first impression, it's about much more than Buddhist philosophy and combustion engines. As a philosophical novel, it brushes quickly past Eastern philosophy to dive deep into the classics of ancient Greece, and despite all this it's really a novel about parenthood, and about the challenge of staying centered and sane amidst the trials and challenges of everyday American life.
Most of all, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a personal, autobiographical story about a father worrying about how to raise his son. It's only because the novel works so effectively on this raw emotional ground — and not because of its clever title or zeitgest-y Summer of Love vibe — that it remains so widely loved by so many readers today.