The Runner: A True Account of the Amazing Lies and Fantastical Adventures of the Ivy League Impostor James Hogue
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Echoing both The Great Gatsby and The Talented Mr. Ripley, the story of Hogue’s life before and after he went to Princeton is both an immensely affecting portrait of a dreamer and a striking indictment of the Ivy League “meritocracy” to which Hogue wanted so badly to belong. Drawing elegant parallels between Hogue’s ambitions and the American myth of self-invention, while also examining his own uneasy identification with his troubled subject, David Samuels has fashioned a powerful metaphor for the corruptions of the American dream, revealing exceptional gifts as a reporter and literary stylist.
folder containing the plans for his greatest con lay unopened on my desk. As the trial date approached, I headed off to Telluride with the folder stuffed in my green army duffle. I would read it when I felt ready. Once his sentence was handed down, and he refused for the last time to see me, I felt that it was time to look backwards through the wide lens of the telescope in the hopes that I might go back in time and see James Hogue whole, or glimpse the moment that led like all other moments to a
Richard Feynman, I. Bernard Cohen, Lewis Thomas, Stephen Jay Gould (Ever Since Darwin, The Flamingo’s Smile, The Mismeasure of Man), John Gribbin (In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat) and Douglas R. Hofstadter (Metamagical Themas; Godel, Escher, Bach; The Mind’s I). A section on “Survival Craft” (Stalking the Wild Asparagus, Geology of the Great Basin, American Indian Utensils) underlined Santana’s background as a child of the West, as did his idiosyncratic choices in “Literature and Art” (Wild Cow
minutes. Sprints. Then more sprints. Then 5 more. From your house: Go to 8th and State then South to Riverview. West on Riverview till it stops. Go left till Kansas Avenue. West on Kansas till it ends. Turn right and go to Riverview. West on Riverview to 110th. You may get water at the Baptist Church. There is a faucet on the outside of the building. Go North on 110 to State. Turn right and go home. Lift weights. ... Go to Victory hills and run on the South fairway. You may take your shoes off.
later? Maybe. An interesting coincidence, at least.” The record of James Hogue’s life is marked by blank spaces, and by a series of deliberate distortions and erasures. It contains no shortage of possible reasons why its author might wish to start his life over, and become someone new. It is possible that by coming back to college at Princeton in the role of the older Kenyans he was trying to erase the hurt of having to complete against the more mature athletes. If so, it is interesting that his
dropped out of Wyoming and moved to Texas, attending a community college and then the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied chemical engineering; he stopped taking classes just a few credits shy of gaining a degree. He was arrested on a charge of theft from a bicycle store in Austin. He was living an experience which is at once more particular and also more universal, of losing confidence, drifting through one’s early and mid-twenties, and waking up in a storage shed in Utah one morning