I saw a friend had gotten a copy of Joe Parkin's follow-up to "Dog in a Hat," and I borrowed/stole the book for the weekend. She's going to write a review of "Come and Gone" for a cycling magazine and has to get all articulate and prose-y to talk about it. I do not.
I wish I could tell you it was good. At best, it's ok. And ok is the best word to describe Parkin's book. Parkin sticks so closely to the story line of only talking about bike racing and his career, that it gets kinda boring at times. And that's too bad because Joe Parkin sounds like an interesting guy. Every other page is a failure or letdown in cycling. The book could be called "Bummer Life" for all the bummed-outness. Yeah, cycling is a lot of work and sacrifice and dedication... but I still don't get why Parkin decide to commit so many years of his life to the sport. Where was the reward or whatever sustained him throughout all the crap?
After finishing the book, I thought about one of my favorite books about sports "The Amateurs" by David Halberstam, and how it's also a story about disappointment, failed potential and sacrifice. But the books are so different: at the end of "Come and Gone," I felt like I knew very little about Joe Parkin as a person while at the end of Halberstam's book I was blown away. You knew each rower, their family, their personal life (what little there was) outside of their sport, and it made their own struggles that much more compelling. I already know cycling is hard. But I really want to see how hard.
It's not a bad book. Hopefully more racers will start writing this type of honest, unromantic stuff about bike racing. But I just wanted more.