Sunday, 16 February 2020
LAWRENCE BLOCK - STEP BY STEP: A PEDESTRIAN MEMOIR (2009)
From the revered New York Times bestselling author comes a touching, insightful, and humorous memoir of an unlikely race walker and world traveller
Before Lawrence Block was the author of bestselling novels featuring unforgettable characters such as the hit man Keller, private investigator Matthew Scudder, burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, and time traveller Evan Tanner, he was a walker.
As a child, he walked home from school (mostly because he couldn't ride a bike). As a college student, he walked until he was able to buy his first car (a deep blue 1950 Chevrolet coupe named Pamela, after the Samuel Richardson novel). As an adult, he ran marathons until he discovered what would become a lifelong obsession--never mind if some people didn't think it was a real sport--race walking.
By that time Block had already spent plenty of time walking through the city of New York. But race walking ended up taking him all over the country, from New Orleans to Anchorage, from marathons in the punishing heat to marathons in the pouring rain. And along the way, as he began to pen the books that would make him a household name among suspense fans all over the world, he found that in life, as in writing, you just need to take one step after the other.
Through the lens of his adventures while walking--in twenty-four-hour races, on a pilgrimage through Spain, and just about everywhere you can imagine--Lawrence Block shares his heartwarming personal story about life's trials and tribulations, discomforts and successes, which truly lets readers walk a mile in the master of mystery's shoes.
A bit of non-fiction from Lawrence Block as he recounts his journey from an overweight, exercise free smoker and drinker into a hardened race walker competing in marathons and 24 hour races over a twenty five year period. There's confirmation of a long suspected illness which Mr Block has successfully combated for many years. I say long suspected, maybe I read about it somewhere but forgot the source. Block's honesty and openness is admired.
Along the way we visit a variety of locales and accompany Mr Block and his wife through a vast number of races in numerous states as well as a mammoth trek through Spain as they conduct a pilgrimage. Enjoyable anecdotes abound throughout, though sometimes the recollection of race times and PB improvements that are recounted get a bit tedious. I can understand the need to record times and dates and keep a log as I've done that myself periodically as I've fallen in and out of love with exercise.
I enjoyed the mindset and resolve that Block applied to his training and some of his endurance races. I've tried to do some running myself on and off throughout the years in an effort to retain fitness and control my weight and I can testify to the little voices in your head that tell you ..... to stop, to quit, to give up, it doesn't matter, do it the next time, etc etc. It takes a strong will to shut them out and ignore them. Block's mental strength and determination to persist in the face of the niggling head voice and very often strong physical pain during many races is really inspirational.
I think, as again I'm on another cycle of attempting to regain fitness and drop a few pounds, another positive to draw from the book is the affirmation that exercise can be a good tool for improved mental well-being. I know this but I forget it. Initially the exercise is hard and uncomfortable and painful and exhausting, but eventually there comes a point when you feel better after a run than you did at the beginning of it. It also helps clear my head when I run at the start of a day.
Overall - enjoyable and a welcome reminder to get my head down and get on with enjoying some regular exercise. Improved physical and mental health beckons.
4 from 5
Read (listened to) - January, 2020
Published - 2009
Page count - 365 (12 hrs, 49 mins)
Source - free Audible review copy received from one of the author's assistants. I do have a previously purchased hardback in my collection.
Format - Audible