Suzy Favor Hamilton's memoir "Fast Girl" just came out a week ago and I got my hands on it at the Brooklyn Public Library and flew through it. (Incidentally, I'm doing the library a lot these days because I'm currently sans money, and also-- did you know?-- libraries are awesome.)
Favor Hamilton is a three-time Olympic middle-distance runner, and a bipolar. I have a theory about runners' personalities. In the season I ran track in high school, I was a short-distance runner. In my experience, sprinters are a different breed from the long-distance runners-- cut from a different cloth. We sprinters, running the 100-meter, 200-meter, are extroverts--impatient and maybe even intellectually lazy because things come, you got it, faster for us. When I was in high school, the long-distance runners, I noticed, were more introverted, less joining, and the cross-country kids in college were among the most intellectual of us all, going on to get Ph.D.'s and filling the ranks of top tier academia. It makes sense that the long-distance runners have the more cerebral ethos given the technique and strategy they have to deploy to win the long game. No doubt we sprinters have technique, strategy and work ethic, too, but let's be real; mostly it's just (a) push off the starting block as hard as you can, and (b) run as fast as you can for less than 10 seconds. Middle-distance runners, I suppose, have to bridge those two extremes.
Favor Hamilton's memoir traces the arc of her life from her first successes as a young runner to her astounding athletic achievements in college, to her disappointing showings at the Olympics, and finally to her explosively self-destructive mania when she became "Kelly," Las Vegas' Number 2 escort. She was ultimately outed and subsequently diagnosed with bipolar. The memoir, written in conjunction with Sarah Tomlinson, is an easy read and the story moves very quickly-- no boring stuff and thank God, no groan-inducing terrible writing. The book is very tightly structured, and it's clear she wrote partly as a way to educate her readers about mental illness (Her brother also suffered from bipolar and committed suicide when she was younger.)-- and she does this without being insufferable! A true achievement! I enjoyed most her times in college when she was kicking major ass as an athlete as well as of course the more prurient details of the double life she led as a Las Vegas escort. After all, I like to read about people (a) succeeding and (b) having sex, just as much as the next person. Favor Hamilton's memoir deserves to be a success.