Reviewed by Mark T. Sneed for Reader Views (11/2021)
“Chasing Zorba: A Journey of Self-Discovery in a VW Bus” is an interesting tale by Jerry Steimel. It has a little “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” feeling to it as well as Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” with a sprinkle of “Easy Rider” mixed in.
This entertaining read begins as a travelogue about the author trying to remember all the events of a misguided trip with a goal to travel cross-country that ended unexpectedly in Florida. The story rambles a bit as the author matures and suddenly finds himself wishing to accomplish his failed trip. The trip restarts after the author has grown a bit to fulfill his trip across the country in his VW Bus. The VW bus is a story in and of itself, with a number of minor stories, breakdowns, and mechanical issues, as the author stops sometimes in the middle of nowhere to repair the VW over and over again. Again, the maintenance of the VW in places that have no VW mechanics or only shade tree mechanics is a story that could standalone.
All the people the author meets along the way is another story that could be a standalone tale. What is nice is that the travel story parallels the most unlikely story of Zorba the Greek. I was unfamiliar with Zorba the Greek, other than the song, until the reading of this book. It is well written and the tone is conversational, a good read full of adventures. The stories drive the writing. It is nice to know that.
It is also a deeply personal read. What is engaging is that there are pictures of the journey included, which was a nice surprise. The adventures, the stories, revolve around getting the VW Bus across the country in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During that time, the nation was a different place. The people the author encounters are truly different from nowadays. The story is the journey, and the journey is fraught with numerous detours as the VW Bus runs into a number of mechanical issues. Yet, it is in those mechanical delays the author gets to see and understand the nation he is traversing. Fun read. Interesting read.