(today is the day for many postings...)
Only one more book to go on the list! This one was recommended by envoy
, and it is about BIKES. Specifically, about couriers (the subtitle is "Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power") & Chicago.
The blurb describes his prose as 'poetic' - this is kind of true, but sometimes it gets a bit much. It's almost frenetic sometimes: you get the feeling that he's the sort of person who's always on the move. And of course this links in nicely with the way he talks about riding as a courier: the focus on speed, the way in which it takes over your body and your life, that you almost can't stop moving even when you get home at night. I recognise that feeling: the muscle-twitch you get after a long ride which along with the time it takes the adrenaline to disperse makes falling asleep incredibly hard right until it suddenly all gives way and you collapse.
I could also recognise the way he talks about riding city streets, and reading the traffic. Obviously I'm not a courier and I don't do this full-time; but I've spent a lot of time over the last 7 years riding around London, and you do pick up a feel for how the traffic moves and how to put yourself smoothly into and around it. Which can also take a certain amount of nerve, but when it's working, it's an amazing feeling. (I am going to stay away from his take on the Red Light Argument, other than to say that it's interesting, that I can see his point, and that of *course* couriers are going to jump lights when they can get away with it, they're on pay-per-delivery and not high pay at that.)
He talks a bit about Critical Mass, as well - he was involved while the Chicago police decided to crack down on CM by arresting everyone in sight, and of course that wound up upping the activism. I was interested as well by what he says about the tension between his activist involvement & his courier job (or more accurately, his colleagues): that the couriers weren't all that interested, in many cases, in the activism side of things. (Although I think in most or even all cities where there's a CM, there's tended to be at least some courier involvement.)
In the end he quit & went back into art gallery stuff (and got more heavily involved in bike activism) - mostly because he seriously wrecked his knee. Couriering is the sort of job that tends to do for you physically, one way or another.
Fascinating book: definitely recommended to anyone who cycles or is interested in bikes. (Hard to get in this country, so let me know if you want to borrow it!) And in particular to anyone who enjoys traffic-jamming :)  The canonical example of this for me is trying to sleep at the 400km point of the BCM. twitch twitch twitch.