Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Sillitoe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sillitoe. Show all posts

12 January, 2013

Alan Sillitoe, "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner"

This is the short story upon which the movie of the same name was based. The film was directed by Tony Richardson and the screenplay was written by the short story author, Alan Sillitoe.

Told in first-person POV and in a vernacular, the story is quite long but has some beautifully poignant descriptions about running. "And this long-distance running lark is the best of all, because it makes me think so good that I learn things even better than when I'm on my bed at night."

"...and I knew what the loneliness of the long-distance runner running across country felt like, realizing that as far as I was concerned this feeling was the only honesty and realness there was in the world..."

"Because you see I never race at all; I just run, and somehow I know that if I forget I'm racing and only jog-trot along until I don't know I'm running I always win the race."

The story is about Smith (Colin Smith) and his petty burglary escapades, especially the one that lands him in youth detention center and the main administrator wants to win the Borstal Blue Ribbon Prize Cup for Long Distance Cross Country Running and so gives young, seventeen-year old, kid a pass so that he "can" go running every morning before anyone else wakes. However, Smith tells us he has no intention of winning the race even though there is never a question that he could if he wanted.

Smith was the one who found his father dead. His mother was a slut. He had five siblings. They were poor. Given the opportunity to live extravagantly when his mother is given a windfall of money, Smith gets the taste of what money can buy and he doesn't want to give it up. There are some great descriptions about this change in he and his siblings. "To begin with, the adverts on the telly had shown us how much more there was in the world to buy than we'd ever dreamed of when we'd looked into show windows but hadn't seen all there was to see because we didn't have the money to buy it with anyway."

There are also astute descriptions about the feelings people have against authority and people in positions of power. "...because they know we hate their guts, and so smell a rat if they think we're trying to be nice to them."

"The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner" was published in 1959 and made into a movie in 1962. The story is the classic reprint in the current issue of Zoetrope: All-Story. Also, recently was set to the stage in England.

Wikipedia page about Alan Sillitoe