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The Long Run: A Novel by Leo Furey

The Long Run: A Novel

by Leo Furey

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Boys in an orphanage. Even though the way of life is harsh - not enough to eat, heavy handed discipline, dogmatic religious instruction - the boys make their own fun and find support from each other. The book is written with the depth of emotion that seems as if the author lived this life. ( )
  GeneHunter | Mar 13, 2016 |
Set in 1960 at a boys orphanage, Mount Kildare, in St John's, Newfoundland, the story is told by one of the of a group of thirteen year old boys who share a dormitory. It's a harsh life, constant cold through the winter and never enough to eat, and liberal beatings handed out by the Brothers who teach at Mount Kildare for both misdemeanours and any slip up in the class room.

Yet the boys make the best of it and pull together showing genuine care and concern for one another. There may be the occasional disagreement between individual boys, but they sort these out among themselves, they even have their own system and code for dealing with such headed by Blackie, the only Negro boy among them and respected by all.

We follow the boys through one year during which their regular thefts of the sacramental wine and the bread from the bakery are discovered and ruthlessly investigated by the Brothers. To maintain moral Blackie organises the boys in training for the annual St John's marathon, which they enthusiastically and secretly do almost every night when they should be asleep in their beds. But the pressures of the orphanage regime, and just being an orphan get to more than one boy with tragic results.

These are basically good boys, they do their best in the classroom, they help each other out both academically and with the problems of loneliness which affect one or another from time to time, they treat the weaker ones with consideration and respect each ones individual talents and abilities. It is a positive and encourage account, yet often heart rending especially when covering the more brutal aspects of the Brothers' oversight. By contrast it is not without its moments of humour, and can on occasion by very funny.

The Long Run is a moving and touching story, it is very much character driven, with the plot progressing relatively slowly. I must admit I did not find it especially compelling until towards the conclusion, but it was always a heart warming read. ( )
  presto | Apr 23, 2012 |
I understand what this book was trying to do - paint a picture of childhood adversity and friendship, against the backdrop of the often brutal life at an orphanage run by the Christian Brothers. But... I just didn't like it.

I often believed in the friendships between the boys, but I was less inclined to believe the way the more antagonistic relationships were portrayed. I also just couldn't buy the overarching premise of the story - the marathon - as I couldn't see the boys being able to carry off such a scheme, or to stay interested in it for almost a year.

A variety of characters were displayed through the Brothers, from the kindly to the sadistic, and there was a stunning amount of abuse described, including mental, physical and sexual.

The relationship between the narrator and his sister was lovely, but that just couldn't make up for the fact that awful characters like Brother McCann and Bug also inhabited the book.

Obviously, not a glowing review. Consistently, my favourite parts of the book were the descriptions of St. John's and environs. At least then I could get a picture in my head of a certain location and smile a bit. It's really all the smiling I did while reading this one. ( )
  kjhill45 | Feb 3, 2009 |
I have one word for this book: Blah. Very very blah. I didn't feel anything happened. The stakes weren't high enough and no one changed. I think it would have made a better short story, rather than a novel. The main character seemed more of a present narrator, rather than a person something happened too. He didn't even do anything- he just followed the other boys. I spent the whole book waiting for something- anything!- to happen. I'm just very glad I'm finally done with the book!

FAVORITE QUOTES: "...there's two kinds of people in this world. Them that says, I'm gonna make it happen. And them that says, What the hell's happenin'?" // Clare says it's very important to hold on to all your memories, even sad and secondhand ones, because memories can be more real than things you see and touch. ( )
  rcooper3589 | Mar 24, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159030411X, Hardcover)

From a hill above town, the Mount Kildare Orphanage for Boys looks down on the small city of St. John’s, Newfoundland. The year is 1960.  The orphanage is always cold, there is never enough to eat, and the Catholic Brothers who run the home are heavy-handed in their religious discourses and harsh in their discipline.  Here, a group of boys manages to look out for each other and live by their own set of rules.

By day the boys are obedient students, but when the sun goes down the Dare Klub rules the night: raiding the bakery; stealing sacramental wine; and talking endlessly about girls, sex, and the merits of Floyd Patterson versus Willie Mays. Above all, they help each other through the waves of loneliness and sadness that they all experience. Their secret society is their law and their family. But when the Brothers discover the wine is missing, they go on a manhunt, offering payoffs and bribes to any boy who will rat out the culprits.

To buck up the frightened boys’ courage, the Dare Klub’s leader, Blackie, creates a program of secret training for the annual St. John's marathon. The boys sneak out at night for running sessions in the hours before morning prayers, devising elaborate rituals to protect their secrecy. Leo Furey has created a classic coming-of-age story of dazzling scope and powerful insight, leavened with razor-sharp wit.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:02 -0400)

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