Author: W. William Winokur
Publisher: Kissena Park Press
The Ice Woman. That’s what her partners at Schroeder, Wilkes and Barron call Marianna Gardner. It is an appropriate sobriquet for a woman who was too busy practicing law to attend her father’s funeral.
While sifting through her father’s belongings, Marianna comes across a reminder of a once cherished but long-forgotten family friend. Determined to re-establish some connection with her past, she finds “Uncle Ion” in a shabby nursing home. As they rekindle their relationship, Marianna examines her life and slowly realizes that she is not fond of the person she has become. Her journey of self-discovery accelerates when she and Uncle Ion travel to Greece so that he may conclude some personal business.
Marianna’s Grecian sojourn is far from peaceful. As her respect for the people around her grows, so does her disdain for her own life. Moreover, upon unearthing several old journals, Marianna uncovers startling truths about Uncle Ion’s life and her own origins. Shortly before he dies, Uncle Ion unravels the mysteries of the journals and his complicated connection to Marianna. The story concludes as, armed with new insights, Marianna gathers the courage to make peace with herself, break free from the chains that bind her and build a new life.
A recounting of Pheidippides’ mythic journeys frames the stories of Marianna and Ion. The parallel accounts of these varied journeys complement each other well. In order to remain free, Pheidippides and his countrymen must defeat the Persian invaders who threaten to enslave them. His journey shapes a nation. In order to die free, Ion must reveal his ties with Marianna. His journey shapes Marianna’s future. In order to become free, Marianna must relinquish the life that corrupts her. Her journey depicts the universal quest for meaning.
Readers who like epic tales of struggle and triumph will enjoy Marathon. This lengthy (nearly 500 pages), engrossing novel is a touching tribute to a teacher, Ion Theodore, who influenced the author’s life in an extraordinary way. W. William Winokur weaves fact, fiction, poetry, biography, history and mythology into a beautiful story that sensitively explores eternal questions about life’s meanings. A first-time novelist, Winokur has established a high standard for himself. His prose is graceful and poetic, his images are vivid and his characters are interesting. Imagine sitting at Ion’s feet as he teaches history, philosophy and art as a seamless whole. Feel Pheidippides’ exhaustion as he runs over mountains, his lips filled with messages that will determine the fate of a nation. Suffer Marianna’s grief as she examines a life filled with much regret and little honor. And most importantly, rejoice as Marianna travels from desolation through resurrection to redemption, for her triumph gives hope to all who are compelled to traverse the dark places of their souls.