Book Review: Oxygen Debt

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Nov. 8, 2010

It won’t inspire you to run a marathon, but it will most assuredly keep you on the edge of your seat.

Written by: Mario Fraioli

Most works of running fiction don’t tell a morbid tale, but then again Oxygen Debt is unlike any other work of running fiction that’s ever been written.

Dark, unpredictable and disturbingly well-written, Oxygen Debt takes a relationship revolving around running and turns it inside out in the most unexpected of ways. In his first work of published fiction, author Duncan Larkin tells the unlikely love story of an unmotivated small town slob (Clay Griffin) and a highly driven, attractive Type-A Olympic Trials Marathon hopeful (Karen) that culminates in an out-of-left field ending which forces you to flip back through the book’s final few pages to confirm that you indeed read what you thought you just read.

Using snippets of historical humor and bundles of brilliant imagery to tell his twisted tale, Larkin describes two seemingly unconnected cross-country journeys full of suspense, coincidence, manipulation and violence and uses running to forge an unlikely relationship and tie it all together.

If you’re expecting an inspiring story that will motivate you to run a personal best in your next marathon, you’re out of luck. But if you’re a runner who’s a sucker for a suspenseful story and appreciates a well-written work of fiction, I suggest spending the 12 bucks and giving Oxygen Debt a read—and the built-in reread that this book most definitely demands.

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Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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