by Scott Carrier
This book wasn't really what I expected. I spotted it on a shelf in a bookstore one day and from the back cover blurb gathered that it was about the author's attempt to see if he could outrun a pronghorn antelope. The story unfolds in small pieces: his brother studies how mammals breathe while they run, theorizing that humans evolved an upright stance because they could regulate their breathing and have greater stamina for long-distance running. He wants to test the theory in person, as well as interview primitive people who are said to have run down game on foot. That in itself interested to me, but the antelope thread is interspersed with many other brief stories and vignettes. They chronicle Carrier's wanderings throughout his life, particularly his work as a fledgling journalist. The segments about his travels to Mexico, Kashmir and Cambodia were more in depth and most interesting- especially as I recently read about situations in Cambodia in Search for the Golden Moon Bear, and here a lot more light was thrown on that for me. But on the whole I found many of the pieces in Running After Antelope too brief to satisfy me. Colorful and intriguing snapshots of American life and journalistic travels, often ironic, sad, conflicting- but sometimes I was left wondering: what was the point? Belatedly I realized this book is an assemblage of radio pieces done on NPR for "This American Life." I'm not very familiar with the program; maybe if I'd heard them on the air first I would appreciate it more.
Rating: 2/5 ........ 130 pages, 2001