A Book Review by Art Remillard
Life at These Speeds by Jeremy Jackson is a stunning fictional narrative of a young mid-western boy’s meteoric running career. The novel begins by introducing Kevin Schuler — a vivacious middle-schooler and talented runner. At Kevin’s small school, most students belong to the track team. After a meet, Kevin opts to ride home with his parents while the rest of the team rides the van. Kevin’s teammates fall upon misfortune when the van crashes taking all of their lives.
The heart of the book, then, explores Kevin’s unique character that is born from this event. His primary mode of grieving is running. Kevin becomes a national class runner as well as an outstanding student. But his relationship with running and life is complex. The layers of Kevin’s character become elucidated as the book progresses – but never completely. There are no single answers or final resolutions. Rather, the reader is exposed to the ambiguities faced by a young man dealing with the ultimate questions of life and mortality.
Jackson’s descriptions of the race scenes are nothing short of magnificent. The images and details will make the reader’s pulse quicken and legs stiffen. Not since Once a Runner has there been such a superb treatment of the sport. Before reading this, however, make sure to set aside six hours — because you will not be able to put the book down…
Life at These Speeds was released just this year (2002) and is available in paperback. I have not seen it in bookstores just yet. The best bet it to order it online (amazon.com, bn.com, half.com).