Monday, August 3, 2015

Short Fat Chick to Marathon Codebreaker

A funny couple this week
Kerre Woodham/McIvor's

for light reading, and by another New Zealand author, Jack Copeland, the story of Alan Turing which I expected to be a bit drier.
So it turns out that Turing was a runner, and a fast one, so there is an unexpected link between these two books. And Prof Copeland is a professor in Canterbury and is a prolific writer on Turing and his work and history. 

Kerre writes like she speaks but tells an entertaining story that is inspirational, that doesn't assume you know who she is (but does refer to times and people that have had a brief flash of fame but are no longer in the limelight. Someone Holmes, for example). The book is in two halves - training for the first marathon, the aftermath, and then training for and completing the New York marathon. She describes herself as a type A personality blond, and perhaps milks this to cover a few sins  - 'of course I haven't finished the book, darling, I'm blond' but is honest and self aware enough to come across as real and I liked that well enough (I think we ran into her at Paradiso many years ago in what she described as her bad years). I liked her description of the piss fairy - the one that says 'a friend at the door? Open a bottle, finish the creme de menthe, send the kids out for McDonalds, the piss fairy's in the house'. I could identify with that. I have my own relationship with that fairy.

The book has a hint of 'written in a weekend after a lot of nagging by a desperate publisher' about it and the two halves suggest the publisher was unhappy about the length of it - that and all the 'my marathon story' bits by the other people who were there - but that doesn't detract from the value of the story or the book - a decent read. If I'd read it two years ago, maybe I'd have passed, but having become a runner, it was relevant enough to hold my attention and have me nodding at some of the stories. And a bit in awe of her times too...baggage.

The Turing story is also a book of two halves. A biography and tale of cryptography and espionage - excellent. The story of post war computer development, interesting. A comment on the mysterious death - a personal opinion without a lot of exposition - maybe because records were destroyed. The british PM's apology was mentioned but some further discussion on this might have been useful. Overall, readable, interesting, I would read more by this author - except that all his other books also appear to be about Turing or Colossus. Will pursue that...

PS Turing attempted to qualify for the Olympics and was fast enough but injured himself. FAST...

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