Cover image for Long distance : a year of living strenuously
Long distance : a year of living strenuously
McKibben, Bill.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2000]

Physical Description:
191 pages ; 23 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV855.5.R33 M34 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In his late thirties, celebrated essayist, journalist, and author Bill McKibben -- never much of an athlete -- decided the time had come for him
to really test his body. Cross-country skiing his challenge of choice, he lived the fantasy of many amateur athletes and trained -- with the help of
a coach/guru -- nearly full-time, putting in hours and miles typical of an Olympic hopeful. For one vigorous year, which would culminate in a
series of grueling, long-distance races, McKibben experienced his body's rhythms and possibilities as never before.

But the year also brought tragedy to McKibben and his family as his father developed a life-threatening illness. Forcing a deeper exploration of both body and spirit, the arrival of this illness transforms McKibben's action-packed memoir into a moving account of two men coming to terms with the limits of the flesh.

The author of such impassioned and groundbreaking books as "The End of Nature" and "The Age of Missing Information," Bill McKibben is re-nowned as an original thinker. Here, writing with his trademark honesty and insight, he once again creates a provocative a

Author Notes

Bill McKibben grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts. He was president of the Harvard Crimson newspaper in college. Immediately after college he joined the New Yorker magazine as a staff writer, and wrote much of the "Talk of the Town" column from 1982 to early 1987. After quitting this job, he soon moved to the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.

His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 by Random House after being serialized in the New Yorker. It is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has been printed in more than 20 languages. Several editions have come out in the United States, including an updated version published in 2006.

His next book, The Age of Missing Information, was published in 1992. It is an account of an experiment: McKibben collected everything that came across the 100 channels of cable tv on the Fairfax, Virginia system (at the time among the nation's largest) for a single day. He spent a year watching the 2,400 hours of videotape, and then compared it to a day spent on the mountaintop near his home. This book has been widely used in colleges and high schools, and was reissued in 2006. McKibben's latest book is entitled, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Bill currently resides with his wife, writer Sue Halpern, and his daughter, Sophie in Ripton, Vermont. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College. 030 (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

At one point, former New Yorker staffer and best-selling author McKibben declares that "Exercise, after all, is a bizarre discipline. . . ." Yet, he convincingly presents an argument on the merits of endurance training as he embarks on a yearlong commitment to a regimen of Olympic-caliber, long-distance training for cross-country skiing. During one race, he concludes that his absolute absorption of the moment offered him total clarity. Or so he thinks, until halfway through the book the pace changes abruptly and switches to a new metaphor for endurance--his father's battle with a brain tumor. Now, small victories mingle with large defeats of a different level as McKibben's athletic obsession takes on new significance. This is a poignant and introspective account of a 37-year-old man discovering the joys of amateur sports while coping with the inevitable loss of a parent. Life, after all, is an endurance event, and McKibben masterfully weaves a story (packed with many references to other books) that's sure to enlighten and entertain readers and is aptly summed up in the opening sentence, "I came seeking sweat and found only enlightenment." --Brenda Barrera

Publisher's Weekly Review

McKibben's description of his decision at age 37 to hire a professional exercise guru and undergo a grueling, year-long regimen of cross-country ski training on a par with that of an Olympian is as well done as his project may seem ambitious. McKibben (Hundred Dollar Holiday) admits early on, "I'm not sure where my wimpiness came from." He describes how, through all his torturous physical training, his most rewarding results have been psychological. "I came seeking sweat," he writes, "and found only enlightenment." A balance of humor and healthy cynicism keeps the sentiment from overwhelming the text. McKibben also steers clear of an obsession with chronology or a journal-entry style that often dogs such projects, instead telling his story in anecdotes and asides, which allows for shifts in scene and subject that keep the story fresh. He incorporates an account of his father's battle with brain cancer, which coincides with his training, but he avoids melodrama when ruminating on his father's decline and weakness in light of his own increasing vigor. The result is a short and satisfying read that, like the author's experience, may not completely alter one's life, but certainly supplies plenty to think about. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

McKibben always puts himself on the line when he's writing (see, e.g., The End of Nature), but here he recounts a year when he put himself on the line in real life, training to be a world-class cross-country skier as he approaches middle age. He also describes another challenge that came up unexpectedly: dealing with his father's death. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.