“In my opinion, only a rare handful of writers since the appearance of James Agee’s A Death in the Family have used figurative language more effectively than Mr. Cawood to capture the essence of mid-twentieth century Americana.”
—Gerald Mills, author, My Heart Is Like a Cabbage: A Peace Corps Memoir
“This coming-of-age novel captures the world of the 1950s small towns…It has the sort of gentle magic more novels used to have when they were written for love instead of money.”
—M. Ruth Myers, author of the Maggie Sullivan mysteries
"The Miler is a little gem of a novel about family, friendship, small town life in the 1950s—and, oh yes, running...an unpretentious but excellent novel with a deeply satisfying ending. Highly recommended."
—Jim Grodnik, Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders newsletter.
...The novel begins with a dream about a Cherokee runner... That vision has a connection to Jeremiah's decision to become Harlan's entire track team... The trajectory of competition becomes the plot, and the author excels at lap-by-lap descriptions of Jeremiah's races from inside the protagonist's mind. Not only are these the most exciting moments in the book, they ring especially true...
Cawood's brother Ray was a source for the character of JJ. "I got the idea for the book in 1959 when I watched Ray race," Hap Cawood said. "He raced in the style of JJ; he would kind of hang back and then he would start picking off these runners one by one. So all but one of those races in the novel, their style and general outcomes, were based on Ray's races.... I would say (the story is) about 25 percent from my life — that's the social aspect of the novel—and about 25 percent from my brother's life, and 50 percent fiction." —Bill Felker, Yellow Springs News
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If you're expecting a running novel in which race times and training details are the focal points, then this story may come across as too literary and introspective for you... But I recommend it for those who are interested in exploring the many emotional connections between running and the human condition. —Kevin Joseph, author, The Champion Maker
"There are numerous surprises in Hap's book, experiments and hidden depth that all seem to work, and belie the familiar surface of a story about growing up in the mountains. It is at once a coming-of-age story, a sports story (with numerous races chronicled as JJ becomes a one-man track team for Harlan), a portrait of a place and time, and something more: a sensitive exploration of an interior life in all these contexts. Highly recommended.
—Tony Russell, Charlottesville, Va., author and poet
"I have read a few fictional accounts of running and most stay uncomfortably close to the facts of running to the point there is nothing else. However, The Miler doesn't fall into that trap, and that is what makes the story so appealing and an enjoyable read...Pick up a copy and enjoy the love, mystery, grief and exultation yourself. And you'll find a little of The Miler in you."
—Emmett Rahl, A Running Experience newsletter.
Like its hero, Jeremiah 'JJ' James, Hap Cawood's The Miler wears the clothes of something from the mid-1950s, but is something else entirely on the inside... Cawood isn't interested in the usual storybook miler, a sort of spaceman whose workouts and races have no context and no support... JJ has friends (including a quirky black-clad boy named "Zorro"), family problems, training partners... and a town so dense with characters and history the map in the front of the book seems too small to hold it all...
Cawood's picture of Harlan and its people is so fondly drawn that you visualize it on a black and white television, with Elvis playing in the background. JJ and his friends and rivals are earnest and honest, facing the problems of their day with their eyes open, but mostly just trying to enjoy what they have... The wonder of The Miler lies not in JJ's athletic achievements, but in how Cawood shows them lifting him away from the average and into the world of aspirations and dreams. —Parker Morse, MensRacing.com
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The Miler was not what I expected. I thought it would be more about the physical struggles of training for an event that requires dedication, perseverance, and many, many lonely hours pounding the track or highway. What I got was a sensitive rendition of the major events that affect all of us -- life, death, love, competition, winning, losing, happiness, sadness and a bunch of other emotions that you'll have to discover yourself when you read The Miler. There were times when I laughed aloud and moments when I would get tears in my eyes as the full cast of characters created by Hap flowed from this novel. It was pure enjoyment. —Colorado Runner
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The running events...are more than just accurately described; they place the reader in fast shoes, on the inside lane and with precise detail. Suitable for all ages, this novel is written in a style akin to the time period in which it takes place—no graphic sex or R-rated words here... I appreciated the book for a reminder of a simpler and gentler time infused with gripping running descriptions. —Bill Groesz, Central Oregon Running Klub
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Hap Cawood's novel, The Miler, will get you in the mood to run track, cross-country or road races with renewed spirit. Just like the mile itself, the book starts out easy and lets you find your place with the characters. As you read on, each turn of the page gets your adrenaline pumping. Then in the end the story leaves you feeling exhilarated...." —Michele Kirsch, Ocean Running Club
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... I really wasn't sure what to expect and thought (the book) may be more about the physical aspect of training for teenagers; however, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a book that can be read by all ages, runners or non-runners... This book is definitely worth a read and would be a great Christmas gift for the runner in your family." —Christine Wolgemuth, Chambersburg Road Runners Club
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I received The Miler just a few days before the Mount Washington Road Race. I intended to read just the first few chapters the night before while camping out in North Conway and save the rest of the book to read while waiting for the team to run up Mount Washington and ride back down.
Somehow, The Miler never made it to the race as JJ's story drew me in right away and I was unable to put it down until early morning -- after devouring every page by lantern light in the back of my minivan. Cawood's down-to-earth writing style captures the reader and draws them into JJ's quest for the state championship in the mile. Over the course of this quest, JJ learns far more than how to run a fast mile... —Michael Amarello, Moose Milers and Marathoners