The early reports from the Superior Sawtooth 100 are in and John Horns won in 24-something, having started at a blistering pace in his first 100. Adam Schwartz-Lowe was second, also under 25 hours. Some others, first-timers, who finished and who may post reports are Scott Mark, Jordan Hanlon, Matt Lutz and Ed Sandor. Matt Patten and Kevin Grabowski dropped; I haven't head about Ross Jilk (who sounds like he was behind the 38:00 cut-off if he didn't drop).
Grandma's Minnesota Mile was today, the winning time 4:04 and the guy I want to beat ran 4:35 (and I'm in about 5:40 shape at the moment.. Grrrr. Next year!)
Monday 5 in 39
Tuesday 5 in 40
Wednesday 5 in 40
Friday 5 in 41
Saturday 3 in 23
Sunday 5 in 40
Sort of monotonous, but I'm running 8:00/mile, whereas I was running 10:30 in May. I'll take it.
I Read'em Book
I just completed reading "Possession: A Romance" by A.S. Byatt. This must have been a very challenging work to write and the author has to be commended on taking a chance when so much literature at the moment is pulp fiction or very short experiments. A romance differs from a novel in that it allows the extremely unlikely to occur and doesn't have to follow strict logic, as long as the theme and tone are kept.
The book fails as a novel. It becomes epistolary in the middle, a form of novel that had its moment in the time of "Clarissa," but which is centuries past its due date now. The two main characters are not memorable - I struggle to recall their names - and they are meant to parallel the two authors whose works they are investigating, which is a rather forced and obvious writer's trick. Their interest in each other seems forced.
The real challenge of the work is that she (A.S. stands for Antonia Susan) has to write poems in the different styles of the two poets, one of whom is supposed to be a world-famous forerunner of modernism and the other a mystical fabulist. The poems, of both types, are execrable. It is impossible to believe that several people would devote their lives to following the minutiae of their lives, though the details of academic rivalry and obsession ring true. She also has to write letters by both to the other; these do not seem like the same authors (which is partly the point - the faces shown to each other is different from the public ones) and slow the book to a crawl.
There's a twist of plot in the end that one could see 450 pages in advance, involving a coincidence that can only be called "romantic."
But does it work as a romance? The theme is the title: Possession, which is both meant in the ownership of the documents everyone wants, the ownership of little niches of scholarship and the ownership of one's own history and personal life as well as in "possession" by something, used in the sense of being obsessed with something to the point of being controlled by it. There are moments where this second meaning manifests itself, such as three different people, two simultaneously, needing to see if one can really see the fish beneath the ice, as described in one poem. The various characters, mostly caricatures (the American is particularly sketchy), are consumed with their work and the objects which support it, and thus are possessed. The theme, however, should have an emotional tone in a romance, and here it does not.
Byatt can write some splendid descriptive sentences, but they do not provide enough reason to read this book. She has talent, she has aspiration, she just doesn't have a complete work.