Created on Monday, 17 October 2011 11:41
Written by Samantha See
Haruki Murakami, famous for his novels "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" and "Norwegian Wood" shares his experience running marathons, ultra-marathons and most recently triathlons as well as his beginnings as a novelist after selling off his little jazz pub in this part memoir, part training journal.
Taking a simple tone vastly different from his novels, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is an extremely honest account of Murakami's experience as an avid long-distance runner, as he shares thoughts and feelings of his ups and downs, including times when he felt like giving up and at moments when age seems to be catching up, and more importantly, how much running has shaped his life as a novelist. In his own words, he credits much of his success as a novelist to being a runner: "Most of what I know about writing I've learned through running every day." Here, writing is described as a feat that requires talent, focus and endurance and one of which he humbly claims discipline as his main strength. As a runner, he also shares stories and snippets of creatures (including flattened dead ones), people and views he witnesses whilst running.
I found myself warming up to his conversational style and nodding to his simple yet true observations such as "no matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act". As a fan of his novels, it was enjoyable learning more about the elusive author and his wife. Even facts such as how he begun writing his first novel at the age of 33, an age the great writer interestingly described as when Jesus was already crucified. It took me by surprise, however, for the obsession telling from the time and efforts he puts into running, he claims running as a means to staying healthy as a novelist.
Overall, Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running eludes a laid-back feel that seems effortlessly created but one which I suspect is instead carefully crafted. The thin book also leaves you kind of wanting for more. For runners, more of the running bits and for his readers, more of the extremely private man himself. You might also like: The Shift
, I Don't Friend You