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Monday, May 09, 2016

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe

There's Uncle Ernest, whose only friends are two teenage girls, a lascivious teacher, and a married man whose wife leaves him for a house painter but returns to take advantage of his good nature. These are just some of the characters featured in this collection of stories about the working-class or the dispossessed, although the most famous tale concerns a delinquent boy whose only escape from his grim life is long-distance running. Each story is very different.

Sillitoe's ability to write from the point of view of these diverse characters is amazing. The story about the long-distance runner is certainly memorable and has become a classic. However, I found them extremely dark and depressing, and Sillitoe really isn't my kind of writer, I am afraid. I may have liked it when I went through a phase of reading some of the 'Angry Young Men'  when I was much younger. However, if you like gritty stories about the English working-class, you will love this collection.

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