Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Review: Once a Runner

Okay I believe the hype. Long touted as the best running novel ever written (by Runner’s World) it was forever on my hit list of books to read. But reading it proved elusive as the book has been out of print for decades. So the story goes John Parker wrote the book and sold original copies out of the back of his trunk. Read and re-read the book took on a cult status. I wasn’t sure if it was because if it was out of print or because it was that good.

Flash forward to the new millennium, thirty some odd years after its first release and Quenton Cassidy, the hero, is on peoples mind again. I finally picked up a copy and lay into it. The book did not disappoint me at all.

But let’s be real for a moment. There aren’t a lot of running novels. Sure there are a lot of novels whose characters run or their characters are runners. None come to mind right now but I’m sure they are out there. This book running aside is well written and captivating.

It is a fairly elevated read. Parker writes masterfully. Each chapter is short and beautifully written. You immerse yourself in the life of Quenton Cassidy who is on a Holy Grail quest to run the mile in under 4 minutes. Being a runner you empathize with Cassidy in his day to day workouts and how entwined into his life they become. Parker spares little detail and you actually feel Cassidy’s pain.

My favorite chapter has to be the one entitled ‘Intervals’ which Runner’s World published in its entirety as an excerpt to the book. Parker being a former miler himself writes with incredible believable accuracy.

Although I have not read Running with the Buffaloes the story of the college life of the University of Colorado Buffalo cross-country team I imagine it would be of similar stuff. Quenton Cassidy being a fictional character is so real by the end of the book you are forever wondering ‘Where are they know?’ Hence Parker has written a sequel to Once a Runner and followed it up with Again to Carthage.

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to finding a copy of this! Thanks for the review Ultradad!