Channeling Biker Bob II is about a cop named Thomas Goreman who starts getting visits from an apparition named “Biker Bob.” Biker Bob helps Goreman sort out his problems, which are mostly of the boozing and fighting variety. With Bob’s guidance, Goreman connects with a group of real live bikers who have campfire meetings in the desert, at which they help Goreman learn that it’s okay for a man to cry. He also beats a tire with a bat to get out frustrations, discovers that he holds residual anger towards his mom and dad, changes his name to “Twig” and adopts a pseudo-Native American spirituality. There’s more, but I’ll spare you.
Although Goreman and his biker friends are likable enough, and do indeed make admirable progress in their anger-management and relationship issues, the overall approach is predictably new-agey and adds nothing to the massive self-help canon already available at Borders. Colyer’s style smacks of empowerment seminars and creative writing workshops in the Bay Area, which is - surprise! - where he lives.
Even if the message were original, the writing presents an almost insurmountable obstacle. The dialog reads like a parody of what the author imagines a tough biker or angry cop would say. The characters say things like “mean lookin’ dirt bag,” and “who the hell are you?” The drinking scenes are ridiculous -- a hardened L.A. cop alcoholic who steps into a dive bar and brusquely orders…a white Russian? Oh no, excuse me -- a double white Russian. Colyer discredits himself further by having the bartender respond, “Kind of dangerous, don’t you think?” This silly mock-toughness increases as the book continues, especially when it gets to the motorcycles, which are of course, Harley Davidsons.
I truly feel sorry for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They started out genuinely bad-ass, for tough guys who live to ride and work on their own bikes. Now, pop-psychology books thinly disguised as novels try to inject hard-hitting toughness by throwing in a few stereotypical biker characters and scenes of them riding through the desert. It’s sad.
I almost gave Biker Bob II zero stars but then felt pity for Nik C. Colyer, who probably thinks he’s doing groundbreaking work in the landscape of the male psyche, à la Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or Castaneda’s "Don Juan" series, instead of just rehashing what has already been done. Colyer’s heart is in the right place, but his pen is not.
It deserves mentioning that this book is the second in a series of four, if only to warn you.