"Running: A Love Story" (Seal Press), by Jen A. Miller
File this book under "I was misinformed."
I came across a reference to the new book "Running: A Love Story" in New York magazine last month titled, "How Running and Meditation Change the Minds of the Depressed." As a grudging believer in a link between drive and depression, I was looking forward to something insightful, lyrical. Didn't have to be anything long.
Wrong. "Running: A Love Story" begins with a quote from Haruki Murakami's quite good "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running," but it drops immediately into what strikes me as chick lit. So, like, there was this guy and he broke my heart, but then I ran and I felt better, and then there was this other guy ... Oh, boy.
We need more good running books. I'm clearly not the only person who felt the overwhelming need during a dark time to lace up a pair of shoes, even with no running experience, and just go. Why this pain? Why is this other kind of pain so worth pursuing? What goes through our minds out there? Where are we even going?
"Running became a way for me to take back part of myself," Miller writes. From time to time in this book, she touches on struggles with weight control, with drinking. That material, combined, makes up a chapter or two at best.
Most of the book is unnecessary detail about races and relationships, including sentences like this one: "This was love, capital L-O-V-E, shimmering, bombastic, full-blown love, one that dusted us with rainbows and unicorns and gold foil stars." Or another paragraph saying simply, "Swoon."
But on completing her first marathon, a momentous event if any, she says little more than "I ran a marathon, and I never had to run one again."
If only Miller would have taken another path. Well into her book is her best sentence, a brief one: "Running is controlled falling." Go there, I thought. Explore that.
Seems we'll have to wait for someone else.