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Run Hardcover – September 25, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 386 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

SignatureReviewed by Andrew O'HaganNovelists can no longer take it as an insult when people say their novels are like good television, because the finest American television is better written than most novels. Ann Patchett's new one has the texture, the pace and the fairy tale elegance of a half dozen novels she might have read and loved growing up, but the magic and the finesse of Run is really much closer to that of Six Feet Under or ER or The Sopranos, and that is good news for everybody, not least her readers.Bernadette and Bernard Doyle were a Boston couple who wanted to have a big lively family. They had one boy, Sullivan, and then adopted two black kids, Teddy and Tip. Mr. Doyle is a former mayor of Boston and he continues his interest in politics, hoping his boys will shape up one day for elected office, though none of them seems especially keen. Bernadette dies when the adopted kids are just four, and much of the book offers a placid requiem to her memory in particular and to the force of motherhood in lives generally. An old statue from Bernadette's side of the family seems to convey miracles, and there will be more than one before this gracious book is done. One night, during a heavy snowfall, Teddy and Tip accompany their father to a lecture given by Jessie Jackson at the Kennedy Centre. Tip is preoccupied with studying fish, so he feels more than a little coerced by his father. After the lecture they get into an argument and Tip walks backwards in the road. A car appears out of nowhere and so does a woman called Tennessee, who pushes Tip out of the car's path and is herself struck. Thus, a woman is taken to hospital and her daughter, Kenya, is left in the company of the Doyles. Relationships begin both to emerge and unravel, disclosing secrets, hopes, fears. Run is a novel with timeless concerns at its heart—class and belonging, parenthood and love—and if it wears that heart on its sleeve, then it does so with confidence. And so it should: the book is lovely to read and is satisfyingly bold in its attempt to say something patient and true about family. Patchett knows how to wear big human concerns very lightly, and that is a continuing bonus for those who found a great deal to admire in her previous work, especially the ultra-lauded Bel Canto. Yet one should not mistake that lightness for anything cosmetic: Run is a book that sets out inventively to contend with the temper of our times, and by the end we feel we really know the Doyle family in all its intensity and with all its surprises.Andrew O'Hagan's novel Be Near Me has just been published by Harcourt.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Ann Patchett writes about families-from The Patron Saint of Liars (1992), in which young, unwed mothers become family, to Bel Canto (2001), in which hostages and their kidnappers forms unexpected bonds. Beautifully written, Run again explores family, this time through the lenses of birth, class, and race. While mainly a domestic drama, Run also touches on larger themes-such as social exclusion, privilege, and obligation; politics; and religion and the afterlife. Critics overall lauded Patchett's thematic depth, though a couple of reviewers noted her failure to delve deeply enough. And while most characters-particularly Kenya-captivated them, a few also described them as unrealistically sympathetic. Despite these minor complaints, Run is, at best, that rare, mature work that exquisitely dissects human relationships and possibilities.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (September 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061340634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061340635
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (386 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Ann Patchett was born in Los Angeles in 1963 and raised in Nashville. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. In 1990, she won a residential fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she wrote her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. It was named a New York Times Notable Book for 1992. In 1993, she received a Bunting Fellowship from the Mary Ingrahm Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College. Patchett's second novel, Taft, was awarded the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best work of fiction in 1994. Her third novel, The Magician's Assistant, was short-listed for England's Orange Prize and earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship.Her next novel, Bel Canto, won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in 2002, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. It was named the Book Sense Book of the Year. It sold more than a million copies in the United States and has been translated into thirty languages. In 2004, Patchett published Truth & Beauty, a memoir of her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy. It was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Entertainment Weekly. Truth & Beauty was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Alex Award from the American Library Association. She was also the editor of Best American Short Stories 2006.Patchett has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times magazine, Harper's, The Atlantic,The Washington Post, Gourmet, and Vogue. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Karl VanDevender.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Run is the latest novel from the pen of Ann Patchett, the acclaimed author of Bel Canto. It is the story of an unusual Boston family. Bernard Doyle is a former Mayor of that city. He is a widower, his wife Bernadette having died of cancer some years before. He has three sons: Sullivan, the eldest and two adopted sons, Tip and Teddy. Tip and Teddy are biological brothers and they are black. It is their story that is most rivetting and provides much of this novel's essence and consequence. For the two young men, 21 and 20 respectively, are profoundly different. Tip is drawn towards science, Teddy towards religion. But there is much more at stake here. Patchett creates a beautifully detailed snapshot of America at the beginning of a new century. And through interactions whose randomness and emotional complexity these characters do not fully comprehend, some powerful and despairing truths regarding race, class, politics and faith are uncovered. Patchett's glistening prose reminds me of a jeweler studying a diamond with steely precision and a cool, clear radiance that reveals every facet and flaw.

Her elegant prose is strongly reminiscent of another writer: James Joyce in his seminal story The Dead, perhaps the finest short story ever written. Even the technique seems similar. Here is spare, limpid prose laying bare the deepest recesses of the human heart. Here are the dead and the absent forever impacting the lives of the living and damaged. It struck me that Patchett has thoroughly absorbed Joyce's technique. This is high praise indeed, but impossible to prove. Or so I thought until Teddy quotes several sentences from the famous ending of The Dead. With some vindication, I think I can safely claim that Ann Patchett has used Joyce as her model.
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Format: Hardcover
"Run," a novel about a multi-racial adoptive family whose whole family structure is called into question as a result of an accident on a snowy night, was a quick, enjoyable read, though it definitely is not Patchett's best work. "Run" displays once again, the beauty and skill with with Ann Patchett writes. You can sense that each sentence and phrase is crafted carefully, each word carefully chosen.

Though the writing was beautiful, the plot was slow-moving, a bit cliched, and not always believable. Patchett has great ideas for this book, but perhaps a few too many. She spends time developing a plethora of ideas, but developing each only slightly. Had she focused on only a few select ideas and developed them more, the novel would have felt more finished and believable. The very concept of "run" even felt forced at times, as if she just constantly threw out references to running to tie the loose ends together. And the ending seems to wraps things up just a bit too neatly.

Don't let this discourage you from reading Ann Patchett, however. She is a fantastic author. If you were disappointed with "Run," read "Bel Canto" or "The Magician's Assistant" and experience Patchett at her best.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ann Patchett explores twenty-four hours in the life of an upper middle class Boston family. Bernard Doyle, the former mayor of Boston, has been widowed and the effects of the loss of his wife hover over this story. Sullivan is the prodigal son who returns unexpectedly during a snowstorm, but it is not until the middle of the novel that the reader learns of the scandal that forced him to run to Africa and leave his father disgraced. Tip and Teddy are two African-American boys the Doyles adopted and the father unabashedly tries to lead them into politics. They are dragged to lecture after lecture, and it is after one such outing to hear Jesse Jackson speak that Tip is struck by an SUV. He most likely would have been killed had he not been pushed out of harm's way at the last second by a bystander who calls herself Tennessee. When she is rushed to the hospital, the Doyles are left to care for her eleven-year-old daughter Kenya for the night.

Patchett gives the reader many issues to mull over---race, class, politics--but it is family that cements all the issues she presents, family that binds disparate personalities and makes their essential differences a beautiful blending.

Tip and Teddy are the heart of this story, the two blood brothers bound by shared parentage yet each finding his own path while hoping not to be crushed by the heavy mantel of their father's expectations.

This is a moving story of an intense father, his biological son he is estranged from, his adopted sons in whom he sees his own future, and the young girl who comes unexpectedly and unbidden into their lives. It is a story of family and the secrets we discover and the ones best left hidden.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ann Patchett's latest novel RUN is about the Doyle family and is set in contemporary Boston. Bernard Doyle, a Caucasian in his early 60's, has raised three children alone after the death from cancer of his beloved wife Bernadette: his thirty-four-year-old son Sullivan, the black sheep of the family, and his two adopted black sons who are brothers by birth, Tip who is 21, and Teddy who is a year younger. The Doyles in a noble gesture had adopted two black children so "each brother would keep the other from feeling alien or isolated in this white jungle." The film director (Steven Spielberg made a similar comment when he adopted two black children.) Doyle, the ex-mayor of Boston, hopes that these two sons will have a bright future in politics. Tip, however, is enthralled with ichthyology (the branch of zoology that deals with fish) while Teddy has aspirations of becoming a priest and is the favorite relative of his late mother's uncle, Father Sullivan, a Catholic priest living in a retirement home.

Ms. Patchett certainly tells an interesting life-affirming story; some of the twists are expected, other are not. There are no villains here. Every character to a person is decent including Sullivan, even after you find out how he went astray. To that extent Ms. Patchett reminds me of one of my favorite authors Anne Tyler, whose characters are usually admirable as well albeit often slightly off-center. There are passages beautifully and profoundly written. For example, Father Sullivan, in his 80's and sick with a bad heart, muses on whether there might not be life after this one and concludes that if that is the case, then he "hoped to elevate the present to a state of the divine. It seemed from this moment of repose that God may well have been life itself. . . Life itself had been holy.
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