Bookdwarf brought home a motorcycle-related galley for me. Scheduled for publication in May 2007, Fast Company: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Motorcycles in Italy is the story of a man who goes to Bologna to do marketing for a struggling motorcycle manufacturer in the mid-90s. This manufacturer is carefully unnamed, but it’s obviously Ducati. Ducati is known among motorcyclists for several things, all of which are described in the book: making high-performance motorcycles that are expensive to maintain, the mid-90s meltdown and turnaround led by brash Americans, the “naked bike” craze being led by the Monster series, and the unconventional desmodromic valves in its engines. Changing the trademarked words to “Beast” and “cosmodromic” doesn’t make it less obvious. Nor does putting the silhouette of a 1980s-style Japanese cruiser on the cover– not when the author is shown on the back page posing next to a Ducati 996 and wearing Ducati-branded leathers. Least effective at hiding the identity of the company is the Library of Congress cataloging in publication data, where the entry “1. Ducati (company)” has been carefully crossed out with a black magic marker.

The book itself is OK. Gross goes to Italy, gets some fancy clothes, a hot skinhead boyfriend, and drinks coffee in a colorfully stereotypical Italian town. He’s a reasonably good writer, but I’m still unsure why they’re pretending the book isn’t about Ducati.

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