Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Acquisitions: Keep Your Volkswagen Alive

Last week we hit the Lake Agassiz Regional Library book sale; this week was the Fargo Public Library book sale. The website was very clear: the sale started at 9. When we arrived, we found all the posters said the sale would begin at 10. So, after filling 45 minutes with people-watching and being obnoxious in public, the Wifey and I finally got to be one of the first people into a book sale. The first thing I grabbed was the book to the right — I'm certain it would have been gone seconds later had I not headed tight for nonfiction. How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, by John Muir, must've been a good manual if they recently came out with a 30th Anniversary Edition.

John Muir, who is in fact a descendant of the conservationist Muir, wasn't your average VW-driving hippie. A skilled engineer, Muir worked for Lockheed for years, until deciding late in life to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to lead a simpler life. Muir started working on Volkswagens, eventually acquiring a level of expertise that he felt he needed to share, so he self-published the first edition of How To…Volkswagen Alive. The book quickly became the go-to reference for VW repair, and combined a sensible readability, including humor and philosophy, that appealed to VW owners. The illustrations are by "Juniperus Scopulorum", a/k/a Peter Aschwanden, and add a very R Crumbish feel to the book. Trippy imagery, trippy writing, and a counterculture subject all make this book probably the mosy hippyish book I own — but being a mechanic's reference, it's going next to my Chilton's. I had originally intended to sell it, thinking it was obscure and desirable, but mine's a 4th printing of a quite common book, so whenever I get around to reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I may have to read this one, too, and actually get some mechanical learning out of it. From a young age, my daughter said she wanted a VW Beetle when she got of age, I might as well start preparing now.

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