I love to have a good book on the go, one that both makes me think and makes me laugh. Have just started to reading Lionel Shriver’s just published The Motion of Body Through Space which I downloaded to my Kindle for the remarkably cheap price of £2.99.
An American author and journalist who lives in the UK, Shriver rose to fame when she won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2005 for the best-seller We Need To Talk About Kevin. She’s courted controversy with her views on diversity, Brexit and more latterly lockdown but, if anything, that makes her more interesting to me.
The book tells the very relatable story of Remington, a newly retired 60 years-old man searching for purpose. It is told from the perspective of his world-weary wife Seranata who’s 47 years of fitness was brought to an end by injury.
I raced thought the first 20% – pages are a thing of the past on a Kindle – last night and was immediately hooked. These two excerpts made me laugh:
“So – maybe you could give me some pointers.” Remington’s suggestion was halting. He did not want any pointers.
“Remember to tie your shoes. There’s no more to it.”
“Look…I’m sorry you’ve had to give up something you loved.”
Seranata straightened, and put down a bowl.
“I did not love running. Here’s a pointer for you: no one does. They pretend to, but they’re lying. The only good part is having run. In the moment, it’s dull, and hard as in effortful but not as in difficult to master. It doesn’t open the floodgates of revelation, as I’m sure you’ve been led to expect. I’m pretty grateful for an excuse to quit … at least I’ve finally escaped the great mass of morons chugging alongside who all think they’re so fucking special.”
And now when he’s actually doing his first run:
While she was still unaccustomed to his being home weekdays, it wasn’t fair to resent the presence of your husband when it was his house, too. Early retirement hadn’t been his idea, or, precisely, his fault. Yet his getup was annoying by any measure: leggings, silky green shorts with undershorts of bright purple, and a shiny green shirt with purple netting for aeration … on a younger man the red bandanna around his forehead might have seemed rakish, but on Remington at sixty-four it looked like a costuming choice the cinemagoers were to read at a glance: this guy is a nut…..
He only bent to clutch an ankle with both hands when she walked in. He’d been waiting for her. So, fine, she watched. He held his ankle, raised his arms overhead, and dived for the opposite leg. As he teetered on one foot while tugging a knee to his chest, she left for her Earl Grey. On her return, he was bracing both hands against a wall and elongating a calf muscle. The whole ritual screamed of the internet.
“My dear,” she said. “There’s some evidence that stretching does a bit of good, but only after you’ve run. All it accomplishes beforehand is to put off the unpleasant.”
“You’re going to be a real bitch about this, aren’t you?”
“Probably,” she said lightly, and swept back upstairs. When the front-door slammed, she ventured onto the second-storey side porch to peer over the rail. After poking at the complicated watch for minutes, the intrepid began his inaugural run – trudging out the gate and down Union Street. She could have passed him at a stroll. The impulse was wicked, but she checked the time. The door slammed again twelve minutes later. His shower would last longer. Is this how she’d get through this ordeal? What condescension? It was only October. It was going to be a long winter.
“Invigorating!” he declared. “I’m starting to see why you went at it, those forty-seven years.”
Uh-huh. Wait till it gets cold, and sleets, and blows a gale in your face. Wait till your intestines start to transit, with seven more miles to go, and you huddle in a cramped scuttle, praying you’ll make it before they explode all over your shiny green shorts. See how invigorated you get then.
“I turned around at Highway Nine.”
Half a mile from their front door. Yet he was bursting with accomplishment. She looked at him with fascination. He was impossible to embarrass.
And why ever would she wish to embarrass him?
This is all SO TRUE about running plus I love how their relationship is conveyed in the dialogue. I will enjoy all of the 6 hours and 47 minutes – according to Kindle – it will take me to complete the book.