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The Runner's Literary Companion: Great Stories and Poems About Running Paperback – March 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014025353X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140253535
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #559,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Among the 24 stories and 25 poems in this fictional overview of a popular sport are surprises from such illustrious names as Evelyn Waugh, Joyce Carol Oates and Walt Whitman-though the more turgid, macho prose of such genre giants as Alan Sillitoe and John L. Parker sets the book's overall emotional tone. The better stories break away from the repetitious variations on the theme of competition: Sara Maitland's "The Loveliness of the Long-Distance Runner," for instance, explores the oppositional thoughts of a woman runner about to enter a marathon and her female, non-athletic lover, who is both attracted and repelled by the nature of her partner's hobby. Oates's "Running" is an unusual, stream-of-consciousness narrative about a nameless woman who, while running in the woods with her lover, perceives a physical threat from a group of men. On the darker side, the title character in James Tabor's "The Runner" is attacked by rednecks in a remote area and decides to fight back, with startling results. This collection should prove indispensable for hard-core road warriors and of significant interest to sports fiction fans in general-and may even contain enough surprises to gratify readers in the mainstream.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Recreational runners have no trouble finding articles and books on how to increase their speed, carbo-load before a marathon, or handle interval training. But try to find a nice short story or poem about running. To answer this running void, so to speak, in sports literature, editor Battista presents more than 20 fictional stories and novel excerpts (of course, there's an extract from Alan Sillitoe's Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner) about running as well as 24 verse selections on the subject. The writers range from the nearly unknown to the well-known and include such moderns as Joyce Carol Oates and Toni Cade Bambara and such classicists as Homer, represented by a selection from The Iliad, and A. E. Housman, with his elegiac "To an Athlete Dying Young." Whether runners will sit still long enough to muse over Rudyard Kipling's or Walt Whitman's verse remains to be seen, but to requests for running stories, this book provides suitable if not always riveting responses. Sue-Ellen Beauregard --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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I commend it highly, whether you run or read.
Bradley L Kautz
I have purchased the book for at least four other people (runners) to read.
Andrew Jon Gideon
These stories let me imagine life as a real athlete and a real writer.
Chad

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book should be in the hands of every runner. The short stories are amazing. The different portrayals of running can appeal to anyone, from beginner to advanced. Some of the stories will bring you to your race days and get your adrenaline running as if you are runninf the race. I can only read them one at a time because I get to pumped up and have to relax.
The poems are very eclectic. They capture the crazy thoughts that go through your mind while you are running. They also are beautiful descriptions of a very basic act. I loved them all. Every once in a while I read one before i go run. They make you think, and isn't that what happens on a run. These poems give you good mind fuel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
I thought this book had a great collection of running stories that just inspired me to just run and help me in my races to keep going. I enjoyed reading this book eminsly and it has something for all ages and all types of runners. I recommend that any runner get this book, especially if you're looking for inspiration
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chad on September 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I posted this review originally at fourtrails.com.

What it is: A collection of short stories and poems about running, featuring works by authors you've heard of (Joyce Carol Oates) and some you probably haven't (Eddy Orcutt).

What it isn't: A uniform collection of descriptions of lungs bursting, chests heaving, legs flying, and so on. Though there are plenty of those descriptions as well.

Why I read it: I once wanted to get a degree even less lucrative than a PhD in Philosophy-an MFA in Creative Writing. These stories let me imagine life as a real athlete and a real writer.

Description: If the syllabi of a PE teacher and an English teacher had a love-child, the first text on this love-child syllabus would be this book. It contains examples of truly spectacular writing from canonical writers such as Joyce Carol Oates, W. H. Auden, and Walt Whitman, as well as many stories and poems that have been mostly forgotten. There are stories about athletes and coaches, predators and prey, heroes and villains.

There are several stories that would justify the price of the book all on their own. Harry Sylvester's "Going to Run All Night" is a story about a young soldier who must run an impossible distance in order to bring a message to a support unit. It's a twentieth-century version of the story of Pheidippides, but much more visceral. George Ewart Evans' "The Medal," a story of a young white man trying to return an ill-won medal to an older black man, is an examination of white privilege in the 1950s.

James Tabor's "The Runner" haunts me in ways reminiscent of some of the short stories of James Tate, and might be the best story in the lot. Another contender for the best short story is Joyce Carol Oates's "Running.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Jon Gideon on August 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is a five star must have book for runners. I have purchased the book for at least four other people (runners) to read. Good variety of stories with some poems too.
Andrew Gideon, Thompson Falls, MT
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