Melissa Holbrook Pierson

Melissa Holbrook Pierson (born (1957-12-14) December 14, 1957)[1] is a writer and essayist of non-fiction.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson
Born (1957-12-14) December 14, 1957[1]
Akron, Ohio
EducationA.B. Vassar College 1980
M.A. Columbia University 1984[1]
Notable worksThe Perfect Vehicle: What It Is About Motorcycles


Pierson was born in Akron, Ohio. She is a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast and this is reflected in many of her books. Her works are often explorations of personal experience, extended into general social commentary and history.

When asked in an interview, "Do you consider yourself a travel writer, a kind of “place writer,” a nature writer, or—" Pierson answered, "All of those things. I don’t think of myself as fitting into a category. But I had to be careful in all of my books not to repeat things, because I have these ideas, and though the subjects were disparate, the same idea would come up through different portals. "[2] The Place You Love is Gone was described by Anthony Swofford in The New York Times Book Review as, "the punk rock girl sitting in the rear pews at church, offering a counternarrative: what she says about the patriarchy and the raping of the land (and the Indians and dairy farmers and denizens of small towns in upstate New York) is true but the priests (elected politicians and water managers and ambitious city planners) wish her parents would drag the girl home; the organ player pipes louder in order to drown the punk's anti-establishment rant."[3]

Selected works


  • The Perfect Vehicle: What Is It About Motorcycles (First ed.), W. W. Norton & Company, 1997, ISBN 978-0-393-04064-7
  • Dark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals, Women, a Passion, W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, ISBN 0-393-04947-7
  • Luc, Sante; Pierson, Melissa Holbrook, eds. (2000), O.K. You Mugs, Granta Books, ISBN 1-86207-362-7
  • The Place You Love is Gone: Progress Hits Home, W. W. Norton & Company, 2006, ISBN 0-393-05739-9
  • The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing, W. W. Norton & Company, 2011, ISBN 978-0-393-07904-3
  • The Secret History of Kindness: Learning From How Dogs Learn, W. W. Norton & Company, 2015, ISBN 978-0-393-06619-7


  • "Precious Dangers: The Lessons of the Motorcycle", Harper's Magazine, 290 (1740), p. 69, May 1995
  • Sante, Luc; Pierson, Melissa Holbrook (April 2003), "The deja-vu vacation", Conde Nast Traveler, 38 (4), p. 140(9)
  • Sante, Luc; Pierson, Melissa Holbrook (January 1996), "The call of the wild. (Western US)", Conde Nast Traveler, 31 (1), p. 80(13)
  • "Summit Mall.(Short Story)", TriQuarterly (106), p. 65, Fall 1999


  1. "Melissa Holbrook Pierson." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 3 June 2011.
  2. Brake (2008)
  3. Swofford (2006)


  • Blog Ostensibly about author's dog, but includes many topics.
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