My goal is to eventually make my way through all of these must-read titles. These books have been around for so long and read by so many that another generic review from your average reader seems unnecessary. Instead, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what some of the experts have to say about the stories that paved the way for their own success… and how their perspective compares to my own reading experience. Today, I’m looking at William Goldman’s Marathon Man.
Tom “Babe” Levy is a runner in every sense: racing tirelessly toward his goals of athletic and academic excellence – and endlessly away from the specter of his famous father’s scandal-driven suicide. But an unexpected visit from his beloved older brother will set in motion a chain of events that plunge Babe into a vortex of terror, treachery, and murder – and force him into a race for his life… and for the answer to the fateful question, “Is it safe?”
Hank Wagner starts off his essay on Marathon Man by praising the way it’s crafted. He calls it “one of those novels that make you profoundly envious of those reading it for the first time.” And reading that, it makes me feel like I’ve squandered that opportunity, but for me, it just wasn’t that special an experience.
It was a good book, an enjoyable book, even a compulsively readable book. In that, I’ll agree with Wagner; William Goldman doesn’t really give you the opportunity to put it down. But it was one of those that I enjoyed while I was reading but promptly forgot about the moment it was over.
It’s possible that I’m unfairly comparing it to The Princess Bride, the only other book by Goldman I’ve read, not to mention one that’s enhanced by having seen the movie countless times (though the book is great for reasons that aren’t even in the movie). On the surface, Marathon Man is more my kind of book… ordinary guy getting caught up in extraordinary things, thrilling plot twists, chases, escapes, lies, truths… okay, I slipped into the other book there for a second, but those things all apply to this one too. It’s just that The Princess Bride sticks with me in a way that I don’t think Marathon Man will.
Time will tell if I’m wrong, I guess, but already I can feel it slipping away. (Even the infamous dentist scene.)
Wagner ends by saying, “I know that having read this book once, you’re more than ready to dip into it again.” This is true of several books on this list… but not this one.
Twenty-two down, seventy-eight to go…
While there are several books on this list that would be appropriate for some pre-Halloween reading, next month I’ll be discussing Shakespeare’s Macbeth.