Synopses & Reviews
It's the thick of the mid-1990s boom, and David M. Gross is racking up billable hours for a Manhattan corporate law firm and thinking that there must be more to life. Out of the blue, a friend calls with a tantalizing and risky proposal: How would he feel about moving to Bologna to help turn around a legendary, down-on-its-luck Italian motorcycle company, known for its dominance on the track and its inability to turn a profit? After a brief soul-search and popping his first (unintentional) wheelie during his maiden ride on the company's monstrous superbike, he signs on. And so Gross heads to Bologna, fabled home of marbled meats, radical leftist politics, and bespoke shoes, diving into his new life as the "corporate image consultant" to gearheads and learning to navigate the giddy mores of Bolognese society. He meets the CEO, who can relax only on planes between meetings; the manic, bellicose bike designer, convinced that only his genius can save the company; and the director of the museum, obsessed by the factory's role in World War II. Gross sparks the business's "spectacularization" with sexy ad campaigns starring factory workers who, when not on strike, strut to the espresso machine clad in Versace. Above all, he falls in love with motorcycles, seduced by speed, and realizes that becoming a better rider means tapping into dormant parts of his self that, as it turns out, were just waiting to be unleashed. And when he picks up a handsome, young--and closeted--skinhead, things really get interesting . . . In sensuous, hilarious, and wildly entertaining prose, Gross pens a wry yet ecstatic love letter to an uproarious city and its style-obsessed denizens, and to the motorcycle that gave him the freedom to live life at its very fastest.
"In the economic boom of the mid-1990s, Gross was a corporate lawyer working nonstop for a Wall Street law firm. Miserable, his life 'a prison of routine,' he instantly accepts his friend's proposal to revive the legendary motorcycle company Ducati Motor Holding in Bologna, Italy. Equipped with only a backpack and the basic knowledge of how to ride a motorcycle, Gross meets a wacky array of fellow employees, learns about Bolognese life and feels the thrill of the open road. His book is filled with insight on the city and corporate color, especially the chapters devoted to his co-workers, who include the World War II obsessed company historian and the volatile, eccentric chief of design. But aside from his tumultuous affair with a skinhead mama's boy and his birth as a rider, Gross is a passing character in his own memoir. Amid all of the personalities and business chaos, he doesn't establish a consistent connection with the reader. Years pass in his narrative, and outside of some discotheque activities and buddy-buddy revelry, the swirl of triumph and fear accompanying a major, life-changing decision is absent. In examining Italian corporate and social culture, Gross (who has written for Time and the New York Times) has done a solid job; the lack of a personality behind the observations, however, is a liability." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In sensuous, hilarious, and wildly entertaining prose, Gross pens a wry yet ecstatic love letter to an uproarious city and its style-obsessed denizens, and to the motorcycle that gave him the freedom to live life at its very fastest.
About the Author
David M. Gross was raised on Long Island and attended Brown University and Harvard Law School. He has been a finance journalist for many publications, including Time, The New York Times, and Newsday. He lives in Bologna, Italy, and Fast Company is his first book.