Book Review: Metal Cowboy

Posted on November 26, 2006

Metal CowboyI started reading Metal Cowboy, a collection of stories by Joe Kurmaskie, a few weeks ago at my Dad’s suggestion and have had a hard time putting it down. I finished it on Thanksgiving day and knew I had to get a review up in short order. Metal Cowboy is a collection of some of Kurmaskie’s stories from his long distance bike tours but I promise you that you don’t need to be a cyclist to appreciate this book.

Kurmaskie is a top notch storyteller who writes in a way that is relatable to anyone who would come across his material. He also has a knack for showcasing what is good among people. Joe’s optimism shines through even when he is in the worst of situations while on the road. He manages to make you feel as if you are right there with him experiencing everything he does.

One of my favorite stories in the book is called “The Tree Huggers versus the Tree Cutters as Told by the Fence-Sitter” and it begins with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

Far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory, nor defeat.

The quote is a powerful one and it foreshadows the rest of the story nicely. In a nutshell, Joe runs across a logger while at a campsite who he becomes friends with. The logger then offers to let Joe stay with him when Joe makes his way towards his house in the coming days of his trip. Joe ends up at the loggers house but he is not home so Joe decides to camp in the woods where he meets a number of the “tree huggers” who are protesting the company that Joe’s logger friend works for. Joe, trying to be friends with both the loggers and the tree huggers, ends up having to explain himself to both the logger and the tree huggers and everyone ends up not caring for Joe too much since he wasn’t really up front about his true beliefs.

The story reminds us to not be afraid to talk about what we believe in and to be up front. It also urges us to step out of the gray twilight and take some chances. As entrepreneurs and VCs we are all taking our shot at changing the world. Yes, a lot of us will fail at some point in our lives but I, for one, would rather fail while taking a chance on something I believe in than to have never taken a chance at all and I think a lot of you probably feel the same way.

That said, I highly recommend picking up Metal Cowboy. You won’t regret it. My only warning is the book may cause an overwhelming urge to grab your bike, load it up and head out on an extended bike tour of your own!

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  1. […] A while back I reviewed Metal Cowboy by Joe Kurmaskie which I thoroughly enjoyed. Joe is an amazing writer with a flair for getting to the best of a situation or person and he always has a way of making me laugh out loud while reading his tales. After finishing Metal Cowboy I immediately went out and picked up the follow-up called Riding Outside the Lines. […]

  2. Blogosphere Magic : Olson’s Observations February 27, 2007 6:44 pm

    […] magic just the other day. I recently read and reviewed Joe Kurmaskie’s first two books: Metal Cowboy and Riding Outside the Lines. The books were really great reads so I had to get the word out. Who […]

  3. […] third book by Joe Kurmaskie (see my reviews of his other two books here and here) is by far his best written. If you were to read all three of his books in a row as I have […]