Gather round boys and girls, its book review time!
Today I will review the book "The Long Walk" by Richard Bachman, aka Stephen King (on rainy days).
I had heard several mentions of this book before on the various ultra running forums and on the Ultra List, usually in reference to the "Vol State" run which is basically a unassisted death march across the great state of Tennessee in the middle of the summer.
"The Long Walk" was much like this race, but worse.
In "The Long Walk" the "Long Walk" itself is the main focus of the book (catchy title huh?). In a race where 100 boys under the age of 18 are chosen to walk until only 1 walker remains, it's easy to see why I loved the book.
The real difference between the book and Vol State is the fact that in Vol state your allowed to stop walking and not be shot in the head for it. Your also allowed to sleep, and you have a pretty good idea of how far you still have to go until its over. In the "Long Walk" you walk until your the only one left walking. Aka, alive...
If you walk to slow, you get a warning. If you get 3 warnings you "buy a ticket" which ends up being a bullet, or 3, in the head. If you receive outside assistance you buy a ticket. If you walk off the road, ticket. If you interfere with another walker, ticket. If you fall over dead due to heat stroke or delirium, ticket. If you go insane and rip out your own throat with your bare hands, yep, you guessed it! TICKET!
Although the walkers suffered many of the same issues that plague ultra runners like blisters, fatigue, mental insanity, muscle cramps, and more mental insanity the one thing I saw lacking was the ass rash. Chaffing is a MAJOR area of concern for ultra runners (at least the ones that aren't stick skinny), yet although the walkers walked through rain storms and 80 degree weather (which actually sounds quite pleasant) while wearing blue jeans and sweat pants, no one ever got any chaffing. I call bull shit!
I loved the entire book, right up to the final 10 pages where Stephen Bachman King decided he was tired of writing and instead of actually finishing the story, he ended the book. I checked 3 or 4 times expecting to see where I missed a few pages, or maybe they fell out of the book, but no. It was one of the worst endings I've ever read in a book in my life.
Aside from the ending being a major upset, the rest of the book was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate this book a 6 based off the lack of ass rash and the let down at the end.