Not Oprah’s Book Club: Run

As you all know, I read A LOT of serious nonfiction. Slap a Samantha Power book or an old political philosophy text in my hand, and I can be happy for a few hours. But sometimes my brain is in overdrive and my schedule is in overwhelm and what I really crave is a good, speedy novel–the kind you can devour in one or two sittings.
I was in that mode recently and had the chance to race through Run by Ann Patchett. With the clouds floating outside the airplane window, I immersed myself in a world of family secrets, long held relational patterns, race, class, and politics. The nice thing about Run was that, while it was a really fast, easy read, it also had some major substance to it.
Essentially it is about a family colored by death and adoption. The former mayor of Boston (a white dude) has one biological child and two adopted children (both black) and is forced to raise them alone after his wife dies. His relationship with the three boys, and later on some surprise characters that come (back) into all of their lives, are the center of the book. Throw in some mystical healings, a few ghosts, and a couple of car accidents and you’ve got yourself a suspenseful, if not always sophisticated, sociological thriller. My one reservation about this book was that sometimes it felt like the race and class elements played out a little too black and white. It sometimes reminded me of a less evolved On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Which is one of my favorite books ever.

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5 Comments

  1. Aint I A Woman
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Great to hear! I read Bel Canto by her and really loved it. I’ll definitely be onto this one next.

  2. Zoe Irene
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I have long been a fan of Patchett. My absolute favorite of her novels is The Magician’s Assistant. I’ve read it four or five times and always experience it in a different way.

  3. margosita
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m also a Patchett fan. I adored Bel Canto. I thought this is actually the weakest of her novels. The human relationships she draws her her other novels are so much richer and more complicated than I felt the ones in Run were.
    Still, a good read. Worthy of a nice break from the heavy nonfiction.

  4. rhian
    Posted October 30, 2008 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    This is one of my favorite books ever. I read it a couple of years ago and still think about it all the time.

  5. cellardoors
    Posted November 3, 2008 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    On Beauty is one of my favorite books of all time, so I might just have to check this out.

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