I read this book a while ago and put off writing about it because I wasn’t sure what to write about it and then this week happened and I’m still not quite sure what to write about it but here it is. The book tells the short life and tragic end of Madison Holleran, an all American college athlete who seemed from all appearances to have it all going for her. This week we lost two more such people. First, fashion designer Kate Spade, then the man living everyone’s dream life, Anthony Bourdain. That one for me was pretty tough. I don’t tend to get too upset when celebrities pass, but there was something about Bourdain’s passing that really hit me. He really seemed like a normal guy that also happened to have a really great life that he loved to share with other people. He, seemingly effortlessly, made the world a better place. There’s clearly more to the story than that, but I’m not sure I want to know any more. Maybe that’s why I had trouble with Fagan’s book. The book is good, but the story sucks. And the whole time I’m reading it I already know it’s not going to end well while at the same time I’m hoping that it somehow ends well. Through access to social media and private messages, and interviews with friends and family Fagan explores in detail Holleran’s downward spiral as she adjusts to college life after high school, and the pressures of elite-level college athletics. Ultimately, Holleran decides that her only escape is to end her life. How she does it, though the exact detail strike me as speculation, if true is a heavy conclusion to a too short life. If scripted it would strike me as cliché and difficult to believe. It’s not a happy book, but I believe it’s worth reading.
While I was away in ran just about every day and then biked or walked or both and it was great but maybe it was a bit of overkill. On the last Thursday I was away I ran and my right shin felt not quite right and later on it felt as if I had kicked something and bruised the shinbone but I couldn’t remember and I figured I would remember. On the last Friday I ran and recall as I descended Västerbron I felt the pain in my shin gradually grow. It was a very weird experience. I was about halfway through a 15 KM route, which I finished and the pain continued to grow throughout the day. I’ve had a shin splint once before. When I hurt my right knee last fall I developed a shin splint on my left, which my physiotherapist suggested was probably due to overcompensation. This was much worse. I flew home on Saturday and took the day off, ran Sunday and felt awful, so I took Monday and Tuesday off. Wednesday was Global Running Day, so of course I completely overdid it. I woke and ran 24 KM and I felt really great but my shin did not. An afternoon of stretching and massaging the sole of my foot I felt okay enough to go out and join the multi-run-clubs Global Running Day social run. I opted for the shorter (not the shortest…) route from Burrard Bridge around Science World into Vanier Park. It started not so great, as I really felt alone in a huge crowd where everyone seemed to know everyone. I said hello to a couple people I knew from Strava. Some friendlier than others, social media IRL status quo. I eavesdropped on Rob Watson and at the end of the run chatted with him and he was really friendly, which was refreshing, and I talked with a few others I recognized. I feel like I made a bit of progress towards my 2018 resolution towards more social running. However, my leg by now I was thinking about amputation. So I ran home. All in it was a 36 KM day. I took Thursday-Friday-Saturday off, went for a long bike ride on Saturday and woke this morning feeling pretty good. Rest and bike ride definitely helped. My run this morning wasn’t exceptional, but it was fine. My shin started to hurt again towards the end so I cut short and went out for an afternoon pedal instead.
I read this like the train wreck that it is, and then set it aside because it rekindled the paranoia and/or revulsion I have at the prospect of visiting the United States, all the while planning a short few days relaxing in Palm Springs. I just returned a few hours ago, still aglow no doubt from the full body scan I received for trying to leave the country to return to this one. A ton has been said about Wolff’s book, much of it critical of Wolff’s style of journalism — what I learned was called “back-door” back around journalism school day one. We could have a discussion about rights and multiple wrongs, but that seems boring. Most of the book’s criticism (that isn’t centred on Wolff’s method) seems to stem from readings of the released excerpts rather than an actual reading of the book, and the voracity of those excerpts. Missed in all this is the framing found in Wolff’s Author’s Note at the beginning that I think is paramount to properly understanding the book. He writes:
Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. Those conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book. Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances I have, through a consistency in accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true.
Many (most?) critics read excerpts, clearly having never read the Author’s Note, and declared all or part of the excerpt untrue and therefore the book as a whole must be rubbish, sufficiently satiating the Trumpian right that was [also] never going to read the book anyway. It’s not great writing and most of the bombshells were excerpted before the release, but it’s entertaining as an insight into what was going on for the first 100 days or so, or at least what those dumb enough to spill on- and off-the-record (PS – off the record doesn’t exist) to Wolff believed was going on. And that’s enough about that.
As you can see from my numbers this week I didn’t have much of running week because my physiotherapist put the fear of breaking my tibia in half and never being able to run again if I insisted on running with this medial tibial stress whatever so I didn’t run a whole lot — just Friday and Sunday in the warm, dry, breezy Palm Springs air i.e., the polar opposite of what’s been going on in Vancouver. The Forerunners First half is two weeks away, and after barely managing a 5 min/km pace for 10 KM this morning rusty doesn’t begin to describe how I’m feeling. My second offically-timed half marathon is my slowest; this February First Half will be my fifth 21.1 and is in contention for that dubious distinction.
We could have a debate about whether or not a graphic novel count as “a book” for the sake of reading 95 or 52 books in a year but there doesn’t seem to be much debate amongst the #95Books crowd whether poetry books count, and I’ve read and “counted” chapbooks that took a lot less time and effort to read than Mercy on Me. I even “read” and counted a collection of concrete poetry (Clean Sails). Though, I did not count Christian Bök’s MCV. I had to draw the line somewhere. And speaking of drawing lines, I really enjoyed Kleist’s visual biography of Nick Cave. I consider myself a Cave fan, though reading Mercy had forced me to confront the fact that I’m rather thin on Birthday Party knowledge, which has piqued my interest to revisit. I’m also now curious about Kleist’s Johnny Cash book (ahem, graphic novel), although I doubt any Cash biography is going to better Cash. Also, and no surprise, I learned that Cave is kind of a dick. I suspected, but don’t think I cared before. I don’t think I care now. I like his music and as a grown up I’m capable of separating his art from his inreallifeness. But I admit that most of what I know and like is contemporary to when I started listening to him i.e., Grinderman and late 2000s Bad Seeds. I went as far back as Murder Ballads because you have to. But aside from the appearance of “Higgs Boson Blues” Kleist’s Cave biography doesn’t cross the millennium. But for me to complain about that would be like complaining that Cash doesn’t focus enough on the American Recordings stuff. But for different reasons.
I went to physiotherapy this week for a check in on my knee and while there I mentioned in passing that I was having a pain in my left shin, which turns out to be medial tibial stress syndrome, which is just the fancy word for shin splints, which apparently if not properly cared for could lead to a stress fracture, which has forced me to reconsider the timeline of some of my 2018 goals. Burn the whiches. Dr. Physio believes that I’ve aggravated my left calf by (consciously or subconsciously) compensating for my right knee, and the treatment is more exercises and less running. Suffice it to say, very frustrating with less than a month until the First Half half marathon. Suffice it to also say, I will not be running a sub 1:30 half marathon on February 11. Also throws a wrench on the sub 3:15 BMO Marathon training plan. Other than that it’s been a great week.