I just finished reading an excellent novel called Running, written by Cara Hoffman. The novel is set in Athens in the 80s where Bridey and a couple she befriends, Milo and Jasper (all in their late teens), are sharing a room in a shitty hotel in exchange for “running” – riding trains into Athens trying to convince marginal tourists that they too should stay at the Olympos.
To people in the so-called “normal world”, the workaday world, the tourist world, the runners are lost people. Living for the moment, drunk much of the time, they are outsiders. Milo is a poet, and we learn along the way he is a good one. Their relationships are complex, brutal, subtle, strange, tender. All of the above.
Hoffman drew me into her story from the first few pages. I loved the pace of the novel, its cadence, as she weaved around in time. I empathized with the characters and the paths they chose for themselves but at the same time was saddened and frustrated by their dark and precarious lives.
Running is both a sad and beautiful work. I could not put it down. I feel as if I know the characters, and maybe along the way I’ve known people whose lives echo the lives of Bridey, Milo and Jasper in some way. It is these characters and their relationships with one another which drive this novel. The story is simple enough.
Running is the best novel I’ve read this year. Highly recommended.