I really enjoyed John L. Parker Jr’s Once a Runner so I eagerly requested the sequel, Again to Carthage from my local library. I guess with such high expectations I set myself up for disappointment. I don’t want to say that the book was bad. It certainly had its moments – for example, when Cassidy easily outruns a group of spoiled brats in a 4×400 m relay.
Even moreso than Once a Runner, Again to Carthage is a series of vignettes. It takes place over the course of a few years after Cassidy has graduated from law school and integrated into society as a “normal” person. After losing friends and family members for a variety of reasons, Cassidy begins to question his life and realizes that he’s not done running, but he’s running out of time.
He retreats to his family’s land in the North Carolina mountains, enlists the help of his old friend, Bruce Denton and sets out to qualify for the 1980 olympics in the marathon. The training is interesting, but the book’s climatic moments are somewhat more unrealistic and unbelievable than the original.
It’s definitely worth a read, but don’t expect to enjoy it as much as Once a Runner.