Guest Post by Kevin Brown
Unlike several other memoirs from female runners that have come out in the past six months or so—Laura Fleshman’s Good for a Girl; Kara Goucher’s The Longest Race; or Running While Black by Alison Mariella Désir—Linden’s memoir is much more focused on her career in running, not significant issues surrounding the sport (gender, doping, and race, respectively) in the context of the authors’ lives and careers. She centers her story around the 2018 Boston Marathon, interspersing chapters from that race with longer chapters about how she got to that point. The first half of the book feels like necessary background information Linden needs the reader to know to set up the much more dramatic second half of the book, the time in her career when she’s nearing that appearance in Boston. As with the final 10K of the Boston Marathon course, the pace picks up at that point, as the suspense of how she ended up winning the race (no spoiler there, as it’s in the summary of the memoir) after struggling with a debilitating thyroid issue and the worst marathon preparation of her career makes readers want to push to the finish. While Linden does hint at larger concerns—unequal power in contract negotiations and doping—the focus here is on why Linden continued (and continues) to show up and choose to run.
Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.
Choosing to Run by Des Linden. Dutton, April 2023.