"Why are turds tapered at the end?" That is not the central question in David Giffels' All the Way Home, but it is a question to which you will find the answer. It is also the question by which I can relate the subject of running (tapering, get it?) to this book.
Also, if you run the Akron Marathon, the route goes past the Giffels house, but it's after Mile 23, so you'll be too far gone with exhaustion and electrolyte depletion to remember seeing it.
All the Way Home starts with Giffels roaming through a home improvement store, looking for something. And if you're thinking this is some sort of how-to guide to house restoration, you'd be wrong. That is, unless you're the type of person who drives past a pile of trash on the curb and thinks, There's good wood in there. Indeed, to Giffels, one man's trash is his building material.
You see, 10 years or so ago, Giffels bought this house--a small mansion, really--for $65,000. And if you're wondering what kind of mansion you can get for that price, then perhaps you're starting to get the picture. That picture would show a tangled mess of foliage that devoured this brick Tudor house built in 1913 and began its nosedive into disrepear in 1965 even though an old woman actually lived there.
Giffels and his wife, Gina, bought the house because they were expecting another baby and would no longer have enough room for their expanding family. So, they did what any young, romantic couple would do, they bought a dilapidated house that was about to be condemned.
In All the Way Home, Giffels embodies one of my favorite quotes, from Peter Egan, columnist for Road & Track, who once wrote, "If a man can't be counted on for nihilistic romantic impulse, what good is he?"
All the Way Home is a coming-of-age story, but not in your typical boy-to-young-man sense. It is about a young man learning to reconcile his eternal boy within the role of father and husband. It is about making good on promises. It is about self discovery. And of course, it is about a house. But it is not about restoring a house, but about restoring a home. And doing so with reckless abandon.
Brick by brick, Giffels exposes universal truths about being male as he builds the notion of self. However, the book lacks a strong finish. Maybe that's because the house itself isn't finished, nor will it ever be, as Giffels tells us (and as my high school art teacher told me), "It's not finished until you die or you sell it."
People who will like All the Way Home include young fathers, idealistic men, existentialists, house restorers, people who have come face to face with a squirrel in their home, DIY-ers, past and present residents of the Akron area, fans of Giffels' Akron Beacon Journal columns, morons who trust my opinion, people who want to understand these aforementioned people, and, of course, those readers who don't know why turds are tapered at the end. And it's not because they're running a marathon in less than two weeks.
Viper's rating: 4 fingers, neat
Related Reading (and Listening)