1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
great novel, even for a non-runner,
This review is from: Once a Runner: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My brother in law is a competitive runner. He can quote entire passages from this book. He coaches track, and gives this book to graduating seniors as a thank you gift. He tells me that this book really accurately describes what training feels like.
I, however, am not a competitive runner. I don't have the build for it. I've never even dreamed of running a 4 minute mile; the best I've even done is about a 7 minute mile. I read this book because I wanted to understand what competitive running was like. I'm very glad that I did; it's a truly great book.
What makes this book so great is that it's so real. Parker wrote and published the book by himself. In some ways, you can tell that it's not a professionally edited book. The first chapter starts off with pretentious, difficult to read prose like "The young man could see dim figures on the track even in this pale light, slowly pounding round and round the most infinite of footpaths." In other places, the writing is a little heavy-handed, such as when the protagonist Quenton is describing to his girlfriend Andrea why athletes "play track." A professional editor would probably have excised these parts, but I'm not sure that would have made the book better.
However, Parker is really a gifted writer. In some parts, he describes a single race (a 4 minute race) over ten or more pages as if it was a thriller. He does a phenomenal job describing what training feels like, and why an athlete pushes himself to train. This book is real in a way that many books are not.
I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who runs competitively, or to anyone who wants to know why other folks do.