Rebuilding the Indian by Fred Haefele
A Memoir

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Synopsis

Maybe he's losing his mind. Maybe he's having a midlife crisis. Or maybe he's simply fulfilling a lifelong dream despite its near impossibility. Fred Haefele--a writer who can't get his novel published, an arborist who has sporadic work that's murder on his aging muscles, and an expectant father for the first time in more than twenty years--impulsively tackles the restoration of a 1941 Indian Chief motorcycle. This daunting project starts with a massive leap of faith--the purchase of a basket case--a $5,000 heap of indeterminate old Indian parts in a cardboard box. From this grab bag, Haefele will slowly but surely resurrect one of the most beautiful machines ever built. With limited mechanical skills, a budget that relies heavily on a Visa Gold card, and a cast of local experts, Haefele takes us around every curve on his rocky road to restoration: the thrill of finding an original spare part; the joy of completing a repair that was previously beyond his ability; the nagging doubt that he's insane and the bike will never be finished; the suspicion that, once it looks finished, it won't run; and finally, the sheer headlong, heart-thrilling rush of riding the gleaming midnight-blue Millennium Flyer. Fred Haefele writes with poetic ease about making something--in this case, both a gorgeous motorcycle and a beautiful baby girl--and how the most versatile tool in his kit, for both jobs, was the fervent wish to do it right.
 

About Fred Haefele

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Fred Haefele has taught creative writing at Stanford University and the University of Montana. He currently works as an arborist in Montana, where he lives with his wife and two children.
 
Published January 1, 1998 by Riverhead Books. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Parenting & Relationships, Professional & Technical, History, Self Help. Non-fiction

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Unfortunately, the bottom begins to fall out when, for instance, the “naming ceremony” for his newborn daughter, Phoebe, is juxtaposed against the episode in which he names his motorcycle the “Millennium Flyer.” By the end, Haefele has dubbed his biker friend and tree-surgeon assistant Chaz the “...

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Publishers Weekly

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This memoir by Haefele, a 51-year-old tree surgeon, ex-professor and failed novelist, tells how he came to restore a 1941 Indian Chief motorcycle--and in doing so restored some things about his psyche.

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The rehabilitation project involved searching for abandoned machines, negotiating for old parts, purchasing replacement parts when originals were not available and keeping an eye out for ""basketcases""--a motorcycle built from a hodgepodge of makes--from which valuable parts may be salvaged.

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