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.