99 Problems: Essays about Running and Writing, by Ben Tanzer

Amazon Top 100 Bestseller, Sports Memoirs

Why is it that so many full-time writers seem to be full-time runners as well, and what is it about each activity that seems to fuel the other? In 99 Problems, Chicago author Ben Tanzer tackles this very question, penning a series of essays completed after a string of actual runs across the United States during the winter of 2009, cleverly combining the details of the run itself with what new insights he gained that day regarding whatever literary story he was working on at the time; and along the way, Tanzer also offers up astute observations on fatherhood, middle-age, and the complications of juggling traditional and artistic careers, all of it told through the funny and smart filter of pop-culture that has made this two-time novelist and national performance veteran so well-loved. A unique and fascinating new look at the curious relationship between physical activity and creative intellectualism, 99 Problems will have you looking at the arts in an entirely new way, and maybe even picking up a pair of running shoes yourself.

"Filled with humor, pop-culture references, and personal insights, Tanzer entertains and enlightens with each essay. Since finishing the book I have again started pounding the pavement every other morning. Thanks, Ben." --LargeheartedBoy.com

"I was left craving his next insight." --Barry Graham, Third Face

"Tanzer seems incapable of writing a boring paragraph." --Barrelhouse.com

"[T]he book will leave you feeling positive about Ben's life and perhaps even your own. At least, that's how it left me." --Author Alex Kudera

"A gem of a book." --BabyGotBooks.com

"There is something diary-like to much of this, yet there is something more here, too; a writer at work, crafting raw experience into product, with discipline and hunger." --deComp magazine

"A couple of weeks ago, I vowed to take [running] back up…'99 Problems' was a good pat on the back to get me started." --Author BL Pawelek

"Delivers a sophisticated juxtaposition in reverse, a fascinating and exhilarating literary marathon." --Author Mickey Hess

"If I want to think of sharply written stories that capture a humorous reality of the day-to-day I think of Ben Tanzer. Or if I just want to think about one of my favorite underappreciated writers, I think of Ben Tanzer." --Josh Spilker, Impose magazine

"Maybe the best thing he's written yet." --Author Pete Anderson

"Throughout the book, Tanzer makes ordinary moments--the minutiae of life--extraordinary. There is a lyrical rhythm in his prose, much like a perfect run, when your breathing comes in straight away, the cadence is in your soul, and everything just flows." --DesertBookChick.com

The electronic version of this book is being offered for free download to increase readership, although you're encouraged to make a voluntary payment through Paypal. To start the process, choose one of the options below:

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99 Problems: The Hypermodern Paper Edition

Want a paper copy of 99 Problems? Then order it in its "Hypermodern Edition," a series of special high-quality, handmade books designed for collectors but reasonably priced. It can be ordered with either recycled or cotton paper, and can be delivered through cheaper First Class Mail or faster Priority Mail. Use the drop-down menu below to choose the option most suited for you:

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Supplemental and promotional material:

An interview with Tanzer regarding the process of writing this book

A video interview with Tanzer about the book, conducted by his eight-year-old son

A critical essay by the publisher, on why he signed the book in the first place

A link to this book's page at Goodreads.com, where you can leave comments and read other people's reviews

Tanzer's personal website


View Ben Tanzer's "Long Haul" map-story in a larger map

And for an even more interesting experience, try reading the story "The Long Haul" from this book in map mode! It's been plotted into the customized Google map that you're seeing above, with the text cut into a series of placemarkers corresponding to various locations Ben mentions in the story; many of these placemarkers also contain photos of the things Ben mention. Don't forget, you can also save this map to your own Google account, which will then let you open it in the 3D Google Earth, for either desktops or mobile devices.


Creative Commons License
This book has been released under a Creative Commons license (click the above icon to actually read it in full); this gives you permission to make unlimited copies for yourself, convert it into other formats, translate it into other languages, and use it as a basis for nonprofit multimedia projects (audio, film, animation, stage performance, calligraphy, etc), in return for you not changing the contents or removing the credits.

Cover image: "233.365," by Rob Baird. Used with the artist's kind permission.


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