Wednesday, September 08, 2010

99 Problems - Ben Tanzer (CCLaP)

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.

Parallel to the book, CCLaP plotted a story from the book into a customized Google map, splitting the text up into a series of placemarkers located at various spots mentioned in the story: Map link. There's a blog entry about the map, too, including an embedded verison of the map and screenshots of it running in Google Earth on an iPhone: Map-Blog.

Ben Tanzer is the author of the novels Lucky Man (Manx Media), Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine (Orange Alert Press) and the forthcoming You Can Make Him Like You, as well as the previous CCLaP story collection Repetition Patterns. He also oversees day-to-day operations of This Zine Will Change Your Life and This Blog Will Change Your Life, the centerpiece of his vast, albeit faux, media empire.

About CCLaP
CCLaP Publishing is an imprint of the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, an organization dedicated to promoting the best of the underground and cutting-edge arts. On top of the seven books it has put out since 2008, the center also maintains a popular website, produces a bi-monthly podcast, and hosts a growing amount of live events all over the city of Chicago.

Ben Tanzer: 99 Problems
essays about running and writing
electronic book
"Pay what you want" at website

a review of "99 Problems" is up in Rose Hunter's blog: 99 Problems / A Picture of a Place


  1. i'm hearing a lot about this book right now and it makes me wish I was a runner!

  2. Many thanks for the shout-out, and Jessie I hope you will take a look anyway and let me know what you think. Cool?