A fevered memoir detailing how a surly bohemian, lost to alcoholism, was saved by marathon running.
Shubaly, a musician and raconteur who’s published several bestselling Kindle Singles through Amazon (The Long Run, 2014, etc.), is straightforward about the self-regard he drowned in booze and bad behavior. “For someone who had moved to NYC with the bald intention of getting famous,” he writes, “my anonymity remained so pristinely intact one would think I’d been fighting to preserve it.” The author attributes his decadent lost years to a high-drama childhood, including an estranged father and chaotic family, a sudden cross-country move, and general lower-middle-class angst. This disaster-prone adolescence culminated in admission to Simon’s Rock, the “college for high schoolers,” in time to witness one of the first school shootings of the 1990s. By then, he’d disappeared into punk rock and binge drinking: “Winter came and, with it, darkness….A shot of liquor in the bottom of a chipped glass glowed like it was radioactive: if I take this shot, I will puke tonight. I drank them all.” In this tale of soused desperation, Shubaly dismisses as gullible tools everyone beyond his beleaguered siblings, lovers, and band mates, and he disregards the concept of editorial selectivity: passages focused on mooning over his college girlfriend or his gradual reconciliation with his father go on endlessly—yet he curtly dismisses the citywide trauma of 9/11. The arc of redemption, in which Shubaly forgoes alcohol for the rigors of “ultrarunning,” is similarly repetitious, albeit loaded with the author’s sense of personal triumph. “This was an accomplishment not even I could diminish,” he writes. “There was no denying it. I was one of those top-tier wackjobs.” Though Shubaly produces some humorous and trenchant observations about urban hipster culture, the craft and focus cannot match the grating level of self-absorption.
A rambling, tedious narrative that may appeal to fans of James Frey–style, tough-guy confessionals.