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    Book Review: Again to Carthage

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    I finally finished Again to Carthage by John L. Parker, Jr.  As promised when I reviewed Once a Runner,  I will share my thoughts on its sequel.

    Again to Carthage is a good book, if you’re just looking for a novel. At first it seems like a book about fishing.  Then it becomes apparent that it is actually a book about midlife, about mortality and regret.  It’s a story about lost youth, and a lot of it is really sad.

    Sadly, however, it isn’t really a book about running.  In fact, you don’t even learn what our beloved Cassidy’s hope for catharsis is until almost 200 pages are behind you.  And the really serious running doesn’t really show up until near the end.  There are lots of little side stories, anecdotes shared between characters that visit running, but for the most part, it didn’t engross me in the life of a runner.

    In the final few chapters, Parker recaptures a glimmer of his excellent narrative on running, however.  When Cassidy runs in the Olympic Trials for the marathon, I found myself swept up in it.  And at the end it kind of struck me that if you just change a few details about the goal, the pace, and an unfortunate fall under sinister circumstances, the description is remarkably similar to my own experiences, and a lot of race reports that I’ve read.  It reinforced for me that most, if not all marathoners do go through a lot of the same things.

    If you are looking for a really great book that is all about running, read Once a Runner.  But if you’re looking for a novel that is a good read and includes a running theme, then you might like Again to Carthage.

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    A runner for just over four years, Karen has already completed a marathon, two half marathons and a variety of 5k and 10k races. She describes her first marathon - the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last September - as "a nightmare." However, she met a very interesting person in the process - a man named Sydney who was running his 152nd marathon! Although the race didn't go as well as planned for Karen or Sydney, he showed her that no matter how experienced a runner you are, you can still have a bad day. "Does that mean we shouldn't bother to prepare, or maybe just shouldn't bother at all? Of course not!" says Karen. "In the end, it is what we make it." We like her optimism!