Posts Tagged ‘john parker jr’

It’s taken me a while, but I finally wrote my review of Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr. and turned it in to my editor at The Second Pass. Please click over and read the whole review, but in the meantime, here is the first sentence:

What does it mean that the proclaimed “best novel ever written about running” (Runner’s World said it, and others have implied it) is in fact an average novel?

Two other interesting reviews on the book were published on Slate and in the Irish Times.

I hate to link and run, but life has been busy, very very busy. The quick update is that I am now running 15 minutes on the treadmill every couple of days, and am learning Chi running form. An oh–I finally filled my Green Mountain Relay team. More later, have a great weekend, I’ll be here on Friday, there on Saturday and laying around on Sunday.

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I am always on the lookout for a good book about running.  I’m not talking about books that give you a training program.  What I am always hoping to find (and so rarely do) is a strong narrative that incorporates running.  So, personal memoirs of a champion runner, where she also has something else  about the sport or about her life.  Or a novel where the characters love running, and are working towards some sort of race or goal.  This is not my introduction to my list of favorite running books (that will come in another post).    No. This is my way of introducing the resuscitation of what many call the best running novel ever written:  Once a Runner, by John L. Parker, Jr. (himself, quite a runner).

Out of print and largely unavailable for many years, I’ve never read Once a Runner because I can’t find it in any of my local libraries, nor can I afford to buy one of the used copies that pop up on ebay every so often — because they sell for hundreds of dollars.  So imagine now relieved I was to read this bulletin in one of my industry’s newsletters, Publishers Lunch:

John Parker, Jr.’s ONCE A RUNNER, the story of a college senior who gives up everything in his life and submits to a brutal training regimen in a quest to become a world champion, originally published in 1978 and Bookfinder’s most in demand out of print book last year, to Brant Rumble at Scribner, by Byrd Leavell at the Waxman Literary Agency (NA).

I hear they paid over $150,000 for the rights, which is kind of insane but also kind of not.  I suppose they’ll publish in hardcover, I bet they’re hoping for media (timed to Fall marathon season?), a tie-in with the paperback edition of Again to Carthage (Parker’s sequel, which came out October 2007), big library sales, and a backlist title that will sell forever.  At least, that’s the minimum I’d hope for, if I were in their (running) shoes.

The website and trailers that were posted for a hoax movie version (of Once a Runner got a lot of folks excited online.  I’m hoping the excitement for this book, which actually will happen (now that a major publisher has invested in it) is similar.  I’d love to see if have a big, flashy second life. And, of course, I can’t wait to read it.

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