- Fizzy Thoughts: Run


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ann Patchett
295 pages

Ann Patchett is another one of those authors I'm always meaning to read. However, after two failed attempts at Bel Canto she wasn't exactly at the top of my reading list. But when presented with the opportunity to read Run, I decided to give her another shot. I'm currently patting myself on the back for my wise decision. Okay, so I owe it all to Gail from Everyday I Write The Book Blog. Thanks Gail!

The one thing I knew about this book before I dove into it was that I hated the title. Run. Ptthhpt, I thought. How boring. How undescriptive. How...short.

However, after finishing the book, the title is all I can think about. It's perfect on so many levels. To start with, I ran through the book. I read most of it in one sitting. Okay, so that's not what the title alludes to. But still. The contrast between Run and Bel Canto amazes me. Run flowed just like the title implies...Bel Canto plodded along (for me) just like an opera, which would be why I never managed to finish it. Or why I listen to opera. However, I'm getting off topic here. Back to Run...

Let's talk about the characters:

  • Bernard Doyle - the father, a former mayor of Boston who dreams of a life in politics for his sons
  • Sullivan Doyle - the biological son who mysteriously fled to Africa
  • Tip and Teddy Doyle - the adopted sons, who are struggling against their father's dreams
  • Tennesee Moser - a mysterious woman whose act of bravery will change their lives
  • Kenya Moser - Tennesee's daughter, a young girl with an incredible ability to run
All of them are running from something. To tell you what would spoil the book. But in some way, they are all running from the past. They are also running towards the future. Okay, some of them are jogging, some of them are sprinting, and some are being helped along by a strong tailwind. And some of them are tripping (literally, tripping and falling...although Sullivan does like to pop the Percocet) along the way.

Finally, there is Kenya, who just flat out runs.

It shocked me at the end to realize that this book takes place in just two days. Two days that reveal the characters of most of the well, characters. I never quite connected to Bernard. And I was just getting to like Sullivan, but then he kind of, sort of, but not really disappeared again at the end. If you've read it, do you know what I mean?

There are lots of other themes running (hah, that was an accident...I didn't realize my word choice until I re-read the post) through the book, but what's nice is that Patchett doesn't try to bean the reader over the head with them. I like to focus on the running, but I'm sure others will relate more to the nature v. nurture theme, or the issues around race and adoption, or even the rights of biological parents. Or the whole political thing, although I really don't like to talk politics.
So given my history with Patchett I must say I was floored by how much I liked this book. I appreciated the author's ability to draw me in and tell me a family's story within the setting of two days. I admire her characterization. And most of all, for probably the first time, I fell in love with a book's title and all its nuances.

Book Club Girl is hosting a live discussion with the author on September 24th.

And Gail will be hosting a discussion at the Everyday I Write the Book Blog on September 25th.

6 comment(s):

Annie said...

I haven't read this yet and need to add it to my list. I loved her first novel, "The Patron Saint of Liars." Thanks for the review!

Dar said...

I can't read this right now cause I'm reading it for Book Club Girl and haven't started yet. I'll star it and come back when I'm done. I just really wanted to know whether you liked it or not and I see that you did.

Amanda said...

Oh I just picked this up and can't wait. I liked Bel Canto but thought I was going to be more impressed with it. So maybe Run will be better. :)

Daphne said...

I also had a hard time with Bel Canto, but I recently read The Magician's Assistant, which was amazing. I would highly recommend that book as well...

Serena said...

I've added your link to my blog, and in case you are interested in my review, here's my link:

Anna said...

I liked this book, too, and I felt like you did about the title. I've added your link to my review, which is here:

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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