i reviewed john l. parker, jr.'s "once a runner" a few months ago, when it was announced that the book would be reissued in hardcover! "once a runner" the hardcover was officially released - and runners of all abilities should rejoice at the news! now it's finally available - without resort to the obscene prices on the used book market, or borrowed dog-eared copies of the paperback - at a reasonable cost. that alone is reason to celebrate.
the other reason to celebrate - it's a great book about running! easily among my top 5 favorite running books of all time, it's a "must-read" at least once. and, what prompted my earlier review, the perfect antidote to that quintessentially anti-running classic, "the loneliness of the long distance runner" - seriously.
here is the short blurb from the yesterday's new york times book review (noting its entry on the top 20 list):
SLOW AND STEADY: John L. Parker Jr.’s “Once a Runner” enters the hardcover fiction list at No. 14 — more than three decades after it was first published. Unfamiliar with this come-from-behind story? Parker is the self-published author whose tale of a mystical miler named Quenton Cassidy was revived after it topped BookFinder.com’s list of the most searched for out-of-print books in the United States for 2007 and 2008. Two years ago in Runner’s World, Parker described to Benjamin Cheever the publicity strategy that helped him sell 100,000 copies over the years, which included listing his personal records (he once ran a 4:06 mile) on the jacket and racing in a T-shirt promising a free book to anyone who passed him. (“I didn’t give away a lot of books,” he said.)
Along with not-so-subtle nods to Eliot, Faulkner and Kipling (a 4:30 miler), “Once a Runner” features some near-Joycean experiments with time. According to Cheever, it takes 15 minutes to read aloud the account of the climactic mile that Quenton runs in less than four. Cheever called the novel “so inspiring that it could be banned as a performance-enhancing drug,” but a sequel, “Again to Carthage” (2007), never made the list. Another comeback in the making?