Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"I no longer have legs. I am made only of eyes.
"The opposite is about to be true, although I don't know it yet."
Foolish unfit Sebastien, in a moment of mildly drunken madness, proclaims he will run the New York Marathon. Unfortunately, it's in front of his partner Rosalie and their friends Nadege and Wilfried, all hardcore long distance runners. They of course all burst out laughing at this ridiculous prospect, which only serves to strengthen Sebastien's alcohol-fortified resolve to do it. Even when he wakes up the next day, he's still totally determined to give it a go. How hard could it be?!
As the months, weeks and days tick down ever more rapidly to the start line, we follow Sebastien's outer and inner physical and psychological transformation and turmoil brought about by his relentless training regimen. He knows full well he's never ever going to be an athlete of the calibre of his chums, all clocking preposterously fast times, but he's determined to rise to the challenge.
I greatly enjoyed watching Sebastien's blood, sweat and tears as he puts himself through his gradually increasing paces, many, many of them, along the scenic coastal paths of Normandy, in preparation for his trip across the pond. By the time the fateful day comes in the Big Apple, he's as ready to 'enjoy' it as he possibly could be.
Whilst our view of his marathon experience does indeed cover every progressively more tortuous step of the 26 miles 385 yards in question, Sebastien somehow manages to find time to drink in some of the sights and sounds of the city itself, along with much needed rehydration at the requisite water stations! Yes, the chance to see New York City itself was a significant motivating factor for Sebastien to train up for the marathon as it was a place he'd always longed to visit. Though probably at a more leisurely pace... and without the aid of a head-mounted video camera for later drawing reference...
Sebastien has a lovely laid-back writing style, frequently portraying himself as the fool, which will undoubtedly appeal to fans of Guy BURMA / PYONGYANG Delisle. Plus there are some great little conceits as well, such as the incredulous little characters living inside his head, just the like the Numskulls (sic) from the Beano, who are utterly appalled by his masochistic attempts to push his body past his very low limits of initial 'fitness'.
Anyone interested in the inner workings of the long distance runner and the insanity of those who would choose to become one of their own free will should read this work and weep. Tears of laughter.