I would actually rate Only Revolutions as “impossible to rate.” I’ve had this book on my shelf for a decade and I decided that it was finally time to take on this beast, a dual-perspectived love story written like beat poetry and spanning centuries. It is an incredible feat of experimental literature–you have never read anything like it. I enjoyed analyzing Danielewski’s craft acrobatics. This book doesn’t care what year it is or what you expect from it. It is difficult and bizarre. For me, the heart of the story lay in Sam’s final pages. Much of it I wasn’t sure what to do with. The mood of this novel is America, and it celebrates the fear, unconquerable joy, and surging energy of youth. My favorite part of this reading experience, though, was leaving the book at a Little Free Library deep in the remote Minnesota north woods. Someone is going to find this, read it, and be like “what the hell”? ?
For Olympics nerds and running history nerds (like me!), this read is an absolute win. Full disclosure: Shorter fully admits in the book that he is not much of a writer, and the prose can be accordingly repetitive and flat now and again. However, I find a lot of value in hearing someone’s story straight from them, and Shorter’s story is a remarkable one. He’s one of the greatest American runners of all time, soundly crushing competition at many levels and distances, ultimately medaling in two Olympic marathons. Shorter also shows great bravery in how he weaves the account of his childhood abuse with that of his rising star in the running world–it’s a great reminder of persistent human strength and the shadows that can lurk behind success.