Tuesday, October 8, 2013

John L. Parker, Jr., ONCE A RUNNER

Not a book I would've picked up on my own; it was given to me by my cousin Mike, who is an avid runner himself. But I liked this one. The voice is not one I've heard before--very masculine, at times awkward, skittish, like the author is trying to put his feet down lightly. It feels appropriate for the voice of Quentin Cassidy, a college runner at a fictional university, who aims at running the mile in under 4 minutes. But the politics at his college intervene, and he finds himself without a college and without even an identity as a runner. But running is a solitary, extreme endeavor ... and with the help of a mentor, he finds his way back to the track. Some of my favorite lines: "He braked his wildly skittering heart."About running, to his sometimes girlfriend Andrea: "the thing itself is the absence of compromise. There are no ... deals available. I wish there was some way to explain that. The thing ... doesn't dilute.""And fate, of course, swings to and fro on tiny hinges; a cable is misplaced and a king assassinated; a vacuum tube blinks and a ship is lost with all hands; a general fails to get laid and thousands are firebombed ..."

1 comment:

  1. Read this book a long time ago (in college - a roommate had her dad's old copy -- for a while there you couldn't buy it & it was HUNDREDS of dollars on amazon & ebay because it has super cult-status amongst runners & they hadn't reprinted it in years & years. But, I believe they've printed it again now so it is normal-book price. Anyway -- don't recall the details, but the general feeling I had & still have about it was that it was a great book and made you really feel what it was like to be a distance runner (even if you are not).