The Build: Designing My Life Of Choppers, Family & Faith, by Paul Teutul Jr. with David Thomas
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books/Waterbrook Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Normally when reading a warts-and-all memoir like this one, I would not be prompted to wonder if the author was really honoring God as he is commanded to do, but since this author is presenting himself as a Christian, that thought came to mind given the way the book dealt frequently with the dysfunctional dynamic between the author and his father. To my surprise, the author himself directly addressed this subject at the end of the book and dealt with it in a thoughtful manner. As someone whose relationship with my own father was certainly complicated, I have often pondered whether my own candor about my childhood and my father’s issues as a father when I was small was honoring him even after he died. As someone who was a casual fan at best of the American Choppers series of which the author was a part in that I’ve seen a few episodes, I enjoyed this film based mostly on my fondness for the Christian reality television memoir subgenre that this book is a part of .
This memoir itself takes a while to get going, but it fortunately is a fast read. The author feels it necessary to write a large amount about his family background and upbringing which can be pretty unpleasant to read. This is especially true with the author’s admissions about his drug addictions during his youth and his comments about his father’s continual verbal abuse. Once the author starts talking about his native creative streak that led him to help his family prosper in creating custom choppers, the book starts taking off, as the author comments on his design philosophy and his willingness to build long-term reputation with short-term costs. The author’s discussion of how he met his wife is somewhat entertaining and a sign of his growing realization about the need to live in a godly fashion even if it requires dealing with some awkwardness. The author also gives some discussion about the nuts and bolts of reality television as it related to his show and the unscripted nature of their many on-camera fights, which tended to increase the interest of the show to Discovery and many viewers who found it necessary to take sides. The author discusses the positive sides of fame with all of the famous people he got to know as well as the downsides of fame in losing privacy and having to deal with somewhat overly friendly fans who transgress the boundaries of politeness.
There are many ways in which this book has a somewhat odd subtitle in light of its contents. The author spends a lot of time talking about choppers, family, and faith, but much of that process does not seem to have been designed by the author himself but rather was something that was accidental for him. The author does not talk about having found his creative tendency as an aspect of divine providence that illustrates the imago dei, but he does not strike me as someone who has deeply read such matters of divine providence as his book would seem to indicate. The author strikes one as someone who tries to live as best as they know how to read without being a particularly intellectual person, despite a great deal of artistic and design talents. Overall this book was a fine read and it includes a large number of pages so that one can see some of the author’s notable designs, including Spiderman and 9/11 themed motorcycles and ones honoring the Armed Forces as well as other vehicles like the Comanche helicopter. Those who enjoy reading about dysfunctional families, the design and building of custom motorcycles, or a gradual path from addiction to faith will find much to appreciate here.
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