Review: 3:41 A Novel

Genre: Fiction
Title: 3:41
Author: Dennis Aiden Lockhart

An absorbing, intimate novel that follows the attempt by middle-distance runner Tim Hardman to run a world-record mile despite the challenges of suffering short-term memory loss, being divorced, having no income and living in a shack in the high desert of Southern California.

Hardman had a beautiful wife and was on the verge of creating a successful running career when he pushed himself too hard at the US Olympic trials and collapsed on the track. He subsequently lost his wife, his career and his short-term memory, leaving him unable to remember the previous day, and so he keeps track by writing notes and making videos.

However, he continues to train. As a result, Hardman enters a marathon and completes what he perceives to be a tedious race by breaking it down into a series of short sprints between drinks breaks. This passage reveals how Hardman lives from one day to the next, unable to recall his last day. It also summarises the style of the novel: significant blocks of free-flowing stream of consciousness text broken up by drinks breaks of articles, letters, news reports and interviews. For those who are challenged by the density of stream of consciousness writing, you will enjoy, just as Tim did during the marathon, these drinks breaks of correspondence and articles which allow the reader to take time-out from Tim’s internal monologue to reflect on the other characters’ perception of his world.

These breaks add depth to Hardman’s psychological attempt to unravel how religion, sex, family relationships and an obsessive drive to succeed have combined to produce both success and failure. They also reveal the influence of other people in Tim’s life, the multiple layers of cause and effect, and how appearance can be a facade.

By the end of the book, Lockhart discloses how each character is running their own race, of which Tim is an unknowing participant. And just like the competition in a running race, the closer Tim gets to achieving his goal of running a world-record mile; the more the reader is uncertain whether another character might head him off before the finish line. The novel gains pace because of this rising threat; knowing that any one of the characters, even those who have acted with the best of intentions, could thwart Hardman’s ambition.

Sometimes the “drinks breaks” reveal the characters in too obvious a way, and there are times when Lockhart lingers a little long on an idea rather than focussing the reader on the end of the race. However, it is a well-written, intimate revelation into the mind of a selfish, flawed, obsessive and single-minded medium-distance runner.
Reviewer: Wheldon Curzon, Allbooks Review International


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