Once a Runner: A Novel

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The undisputed classic of running novels and one of the most beloved sports books ever published, Once a Runner tells the story of an athlete’s dreams amid the turmoil of the 60s and the Vietnam war.

Inspired by the author’s experience as a collegiate champion, the novel follows Quenton Cassidy, a competitive runner at fictional Southeastern University whose lifelong dream is to run a four-minute mile. He is less than a second away when the turmoil of the Vietnam War era intrudes into the staid recesses of his school’s athletic department. After he becomes involved in an athletes’ protest, Cassidy is suspended from his track team. Under the tutelage of his friend and mentor, Bruce Denton, a graduate student and former Olympic gold medalist, Cassidy gives up his scholarship, his girlfriend, and possibly his future to withdraw to a monastic retreat in the countryside and begin training for the race of his life against the greatest miler in history.

A rare insider’s account of the incredibly intense lives of elite distance runners, Once a Runner is an inspiring, funny, and spot-on tale of one individual’s quest to become a champion.
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About the author

John L. Parker, Jr. has written for Outside, Runner’s World, and numerous other publications. A graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism as well as its College of Law, Parker has been a practicing attorney, a newspaper reporter and columnist, a speechwriter for then Governor Bob Graham, and editorial director of Running Times magazine. The author of Once a Runner, Again to Carthage, and Racing the Rain, he lives in Gainesville, Florida, and Bar Harbor, Maine.

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4.4
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Apr 7, 2009
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781416597919
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Coming of Age
Fiction / General
Fiction / Sports
Health & Fitness / Aerobics
Sports & Recreation / Running & Jogging
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Shulman, a chubby, middle-aged stationery-store owner from New Jersey, has always claimed that he’s been gaining and losing the same thirty-five pounds since junior high–and that if you added all of that discarded weight together, he had lost an entire person. Another Shulman. A Shulman he never really cared for. A Shulman he’d always tried to lose by dieting and exercising. A Shulman he’d cover by wearing extra-large shirts in an attempt to hide his existence.

This has been just a joke until, at a crossroads marked by overwhelming marital and business stress, he actually encounters this Other Shulman–an incredibly successful man who’s made life and career choices that Shulman has spurned.

At first, the Other Shulman is but a mere nuisance, a source of frustration brought about by mistaken identity. But as time goes by, his actions become increasingly destructive and threaten to sabotage all aspects of Shulman’s existence.

The struggle between the two Shulmans comes to a head while Shulman is running in the New York City Marathon. And it is during the course of this race, as he runs through the old neighborhoods where his life took shape, that this ordinarily passive family man examines all the choices he’s made and realizes that in order for him to get his life back on track he must confront and overcome his haunting demons as presented in the form of this angry doppelgänger, this Other Shulman.

In 26.2 chapters, one for each mile of the marathon, The Other Shulman is a hilarious and affecting tale of identity and aspiration from one of America’s best-known comic writers.
From the author of the New York Times bestselling Once a Runner—acclaimed by Runner’s World as “the best novel ever written about running”—comes that novel’s prequel, the story of a world-class athlete coming of age in the 1950s and ’60s on Florida’s Gold Coast.

Quenton Cassidy is the skinniest boy in school, and also one of the fastest. Cassidy spends his afternoons exploring his primal surroundings: the local river, the nearby ocean, the lakes, swamps, and forests that dominate the landscape of the Florida everglades. While adventuring, Cassidy befriends Trapper Nelson, an iconoclastic hunter who lives in an isolated compound on the riverbank.

By junior high, Cassidy dreams of becoming a basketball player, but Nelson’s influence runs deep and Cassidy begins to view running as a way to interact with the natural world. Warned of Nelson’s checkered past, Cassidy dismisses the stories as hearsay, until his town is rocked by the disappearance and apparent murder of a prominent judge and his wife. Cassidy’s loyalty to his friend is severely tested just as his opportunity to make his mark as a gifted runner comes to fruition.

Hailed by National Book Award winner Bob Shacochis as a “lovely novel that reminds us that what is most valuable is life is the spirit to accomplish impossible things,” Racing the Rain explores a small town’s secrets while vividly capturing the physical endurance, determination, and mindset required of a champion. “A celebration of the purity of the sport” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram), it is an epic coming-of-age classic about the environments and friendships that shape us all.
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