Running Man Goes the Distance

The Running Man (1982) by Stephen King lacks literary merit as Harold Bloom would define it. What it does have is crackling dialogue, raw action, and relentless suspense. Living in a dystopian United States in 2025, the eponymous Running Man is Ben Richards, a bitter, penniless urban laborer who volunteers to participate in a nationally televised game show. The longer he can survive pursuit, the more New Dollars he earns for his family.

This author is a young Stephen King whose protagonist vicariously explodes with savage energy and resentment at the Powers That Be. The novel is rough, unedited, and utterly riveting. I read it straight through in one morning, pausing only to exclaim four or five times, “I literally have no idea how this is going to end.” When it did end (and what an end!), I concluded that this was the most satisfying book I’ve read in months. Booyah indeed.

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