The Invisible Mile - review

by John Sinclair / 25 July, 2015
InvisibleMileTHE INVISIBLE MILE
David Coventry
(VUP, $29.95)

 

The Invisible Mile is a dream to read, in all senses of the word. It’s a trance-like account of the 1928 Tour de France by an unnamed New Zealander, a fictional fifth rider inserted deftly into the real-life four-man Anzac team that competed with credit in what, then as now, was an insane, drug-fuelled ordeal of men and machines (opium, alcohol and sex being the drugs of choice back then).

There’s plenty here for the armchair triathlete or anyone else fascinated by extreme sports, by the tricks and lies competitors need to tell themselves to push their bodies beyond their limits.

The writing is fierce, a bravura mix of narcissism, masochism and lyricism, grounded in the honesty of the unnamed rider’s journey into his self and the dawning realisation that the race has become a grand metaphor for the trauma of World War I.

Skin, blood, teeth and bone splinters are smeared across the landscape as the band of exhausted men are drawn inexorably into north-eastern France, to towns “inked into memory: Messines, Vimy, Verdun, Flanders”, where corpses sprout from the soil.

 

Latest

Turning a corner: Why this wayward Auckland teen stayed in school
99114 2018-11-15 10:34:07Z Social issues

Turning a corner: Why this wayward Auckland teen s…

by Vomle Springford

When Acer Ah Chee-Wilson was 14, he wanted to be in a gang.

Read more
What Kate Sheppard said that changed the course of New Zealand politics forever
99084 2018-11-15 00:00:00Z Politics

What Kate Sheppard said that changed the course of…

by Noted

Helen Clark and even Meghan Markle have quoted Kate Sheppard – what did she say that was so powerful?

Read more
Why Bret McKenzie is going straight with a new band
99026 2018-11-15 00:00:00Z Profiles

Why Bret McKenzie is going straight with a new ban…

by Russell Baillie

After a year of stadium comedy and Muppet shows, Bret McKenzie talks about returning to his music roots in a band whose songs are no laughing matter.

Read more
The weight-loss industry is trying to rebrand itself as the 'wellness' industry
98751 2018-11-15 00:00:00Z Nutrition

The weight-loss industry is trying to rebrand itse…

by Jennifer Bowden

As dieting is exposed as the lie that it is, the weight-loss industry is unravelling.

Read more
Best of Wellington: What to do in the capital
98651 2018-11-15 00:00:00Z Travel

Best of Wellington: What to do in the capital

by Metro

A round-up of great things to do in Wellington, plus where to experience the best of capital culture and tips on where to stay.

Read more
Douglas Wright: 1956-2018
58688 2018-11-15 00:00:00Z Listener NZ 2004

Douglas Wright: 1956-2018

by David Eggleton

The celebrated NZ choreographer has died after a long illness. David Eggleton describes the path of Wright’s creative life from Tuakau to New York.

Read more
Irish music star Damien Dempsey's spiritual connection with Aotearoa
99078 2018-11-14 14:27:13Z Music

Irish music star Damien Dempsey's spiritual connec…

by James Belfield

Damien Dempsey’s music recounts Ireland’s traumatic history, but it resonates half a world away in New Zealand.

Read more
Andrew Little announces decision to re-enter Pike River Mine
99051 2018-11-14 07:16:04Z Planet

Andrew Little announces decision to re-enter Pike …

by RNZ

Andrew Little says the plan to enter the drift at Pike River, using the existing access tunnel, was by far the safest option.

Read more