Dapper Dan Man…

February 16, 2009

Book Review: 50/50 – Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance by Dean Karnazes (with Matt Fitzgerald)

Filed under: books,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 12:46 PM
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Men’s Fitness has already, in previous articles, proclaimed the author to be the fittest man alive. You might start thinking in the same vein even before you’ve read the whole title of his book, 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance. Indeed, it is enough to hear about his exploits as a regular participant in ultra marathons in every single climate on several continents to realise that Dean Karnazes is a man whose interest in running goes far beyond just regular fitness. He deals in human stamina at its most extreme form.

Most of us who have an interest in running as a form of exercise and way of improving our health will know how hobbled and worn out one can feel after a very long run. Karnazes, on the other hand, decides to challenge himself by attempting to run, as expressed, 50 consecutive marathons, in 50 cities, in 50 different states. In this book he chronicles his entire project, from birth of the idea to its completion.

The company that sponsors him decides to make the project much larger in scope which turns Karnazes’s idea into a national interest but with this comes responsibility and, lest we forget, problems. It goes without saying that completing 50 official marathon runs requires a great deal of logistical planning.

50/50 and its clear prose style takes us through the entire eventful journey, marathon by marathon, and it makes for a very compelling read. Interest by the public to meet the man undertaking this project is larger than expected and after some initial problems with the post-marathon events being far too chaotic, things start to run a bit smoother.

One gets to like Dean Karnazes more and more for each chapter of his book. He doesn’t complain about the problems he encounters throughout, but merely chronicles them and it’s hard to find faults with a guy who has his own non-profit organisation that encourages kids to become physically active and takes time out after a gruelling run to interact with fans.

With 50/50 he tries to show the average runner how to be a better athlete and recover more quickly but he also wants to encourage other people to start running. This is where the book’s appeal lies – you don’t have to be a runner to like it. He isn’t trying to turn most people into super-endurance athletes, but fitness is important to Karnazes and he just hopes that people will try to become more active after reading 50/50.

In fact, you are more likely to get something out of the reading experience if you want to get started but not sure where to begin and are looking for some inspiration. The book is chock full of practical advice and training regimens for the beginner and tips on how to try and motivate your self.

50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance is a compelling enough read to succeed in maybe inspiring some people. I won’t give away too much of the ending but the aftermath of Dean’s voyage has him doing something on a whim that shows that he isn’t like most athletes.

A book review published on Blogcritics. A good, interesting read about a different kind of athlete. I believe this book will inspire people to get more active- maybe not to the same extent as the subject of the book- and to be healthier.
Read it on Blogcritics here.  Dean Karnazes’s personal site is here.

Get reading.

November 3, 2008

Alex Austin – The red album of Asbury Park

Filed under: Asbury Park,books,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 3:19 PM
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Written by Mirza Gazic
Published October 31, 2008

There should be more books about music. Not more biographies of any kind but novels where the main character has that desperate love for music to the extent that it actually consumes his or her life. More books where the music is an intrinsic part of the plot simply because the person it is about cannot live without it. High Fidelity is one of them, even though it is much more humorous in tone than Austin’s second novel about the hard life on the Jersey shore.

The Red Album of Asbury Park is also one of those novels. Alex Austin’s sequel to debut The perfume factory may have many more happenings in its intricate plot but everything that our narrator and untimely hero, Sam Nesbitt gets himself into is only because he has one goal in life; to start a band and become famous.

Four years have passed since the previous novel ended and Sam returns home after a stint in the navy and is on his way to see his mother, but doesn’t know her new address. After an encounter with a cute girl on the train and a bizarre accident, he finds himself wondering around in the cold.

A murder mystery unfolds that night, and over the span of the novel it turns out to have a much bigger part in Sam’s story than he ever would have expected.

The beginning chapters of the book take you through these events, as Sam tries to absorb these occurrences while being romantically involved with two women and trying to nurture his dream of becoming a rock star.

Sam is not just a gifted musician but also a deep thinker and the pages are filled with his philosophical ruminations. It is truly wonderful to read about a character that burns so undeniably for something. His passion for music, to be somebody in a town of nobodies is infectious.

Austin has a knack of putting you right in the location. While reading The Red Album of Asbury Park, you can picture everything about the place as vividly as if you were actually there, feeling the strong wind coming in from the shore or hanging out in the then vibrant music clubs. He also shows an eye for detail and some very skillful plotting; every event that occurs will unfold and every character that crosses his path will turn out have an important part of the story. The best thing about the novel, however, must be Austin’s ear for very realistic and believable-sounding dialogue. It truly flows well and makes me think that he must have had a lot of fun while writing those parts, and it sometimes brings to mind Charles Bukowski at his deadpan best.

The Red Album of Asbury Park is a very gripping and thoughtful book; it is melancholy and sad at times but also brings a lot of hope with it. You are highly recommended to read it.

New book review up now on Blogcritics. A good novel about music in the late 60’s. It took a while to get this up and running on the site. I actually had a review already written and ready for publication a month ago but the author emailed me and said that he was revising the novel. He sent me the new version, which was an improvement and I finally got it up on the site. Read the book, it is very good and takes place somewhere that not many books that I have read take place which I found refreshing and also a bit educational. A lot of research seems to have gone into this. Here’s the link to the review on Blogcritics.

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