4 Stars - Strongly Recommended
I have to be careful. I know what you guys are thinking. You are thinking I have a thing for this guy, don't you? Yeah... Go ahead. Admit it. The second you saw this review was for Ben Tanzer and his newest release, you rolled your eyes. Didn't you? Don't deny it! I saw you!
Well. You know what? I don't care. Think what you want. The man knows how to write. You would review everything he wrote too, if you downloaded some of his stuff. CCLaP, his e-publisher, makes it so easy to do. Why don't you take a look. Go ahead, it's ok. I'll wait. No, really... go ahead. I will just sit here, I don't mind.
Oh, did I mention that they offer different ways to download it? It's available in PDF for both US and EU laser printers, and there's an EPUB version for most eReaders. There is even an payment option (yes, free is an option. No strings, I swear).
Did you know Ben is a runner? Yup. He likes to run. Every day. No matter where he is or what he is doing. It helps him get his thoughts together. It's like a drug. He pushes himself. Hard. He times himself. He likes to feel the burn. And the ache. I wonder if he is a masochist. He gets itchy and cranky when he's all cooped up. He can't function. He panics. He throws temper tantrums.
Well, ok. Maybe not temper tantrums.
I was trying to build suspense. You know? Trying to get your attention. But I let it get out of hand. Here, let me try this again.
99 Problems is a collection of essays that Ben wrote about his own experiences with running and writing during the winter of 2009, and how intricately entwined the two processes are for him. As his feet hit the pavement all across the country, Ben's thoughts wander to the book he is currently writing. Or the passing of his father 9 years ago. Or the fact that he is no longer as young as he used to be, and needs to step up his game. Or the time when he watched his buddy chat up a chick he knew in high school.
His writing is lovely. The words run across the page, smooth and effortless. They flow together so naturally. His transitions almost hypnotize you... Look at my words. You are getting sleepy, You want to put on a pair of running shoes. You want to go for a run outside, You want to run like the wind.
I'm no runner. Not a big fan of the running. Pumping the legs. Wearing the sneakers. Making the sweat. I'm the girl who was left panting and gasping on the outer edge of the track in gym class, clutching her side, while all the other kids ran laps around me.
But Ben manages to make me wish I was a runner. His essays make me think I am missing something by not running. They make me think I should run out to Sneaker King and purchase a pair of running shoes.
This is Ben. A story teller. An influencer. A glutton for punishment.
This is Ben wearing his heart, like his Ipod, on his sleeve.
This is Ben cranking up the volume on Jay-Z, and running the words of his next story out of his head, down into his arm, and storing them in his fingers until he makes his way home to write them out.
So. Did you check 99 Problems out, like I asked? Well, hang on. Watch this. I am going to attach a link for you look at. Jason from CCLaP put together this really cool interactive google map that showcases one of Ben's essays by tracing the actual path he ran in "The Long Haul". It's complete with photos of the places he mentions in the essay as well.
Tell me that isn't the coolest thing you have ever seen!
Happy e-publication day Ben! May your running paths always be clear, the weather always be perfect, and the stories continue to flow through your fingers, my friend!