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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir (Vintage International) Paperback – August 11, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Murakami's latest is a nonfiction work mostly concerned with his thoughts on the long-distance running he has engaged in for much of his adult life. Through a mix of adapted diary entries, old essays, reminiscences and life advice, Murakami crafts a charming little volume notable for its good-natured and intimate tone. While the subject matter is radically different from the fabulous and surreal fiction that Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) most often produces, longtime readers will recognize the source of the isolated, journeying protagonists of the author's novels in the formative running experiences recounted. Murakami's insistence on focusing almost exclusively on running can grow somewhat tedious over the course of the book, but discrete, absorbing episodes, such as a will-breaking 62-mile ultramarathon and a solo re-creation of the historic first marathon in Greece serve as dynamic and well-rendered highlights. Murakami offers precious little insight into much of his life as a writer, but what he does provide should be of value to those trying to understand the author's long and fruitful career. An early section recounting Murakami's transition from nightclub owner to novelist offers a particularly vivid picture of an artist soaring into flight for the first time. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Haruki Murakami has established himself as one of the most interesting and innovative novelists of the last two decades, combining pop culture with a magic-realistic sensibility that has garnered the author a faithful following. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running couldn’t differ more from the rest of Murakami’s work. This slender volume catalogs the author’s love for that most solitary of athletic endeavors, though even Murakami’s prodigious talent as a writer can’t quite bridge the gap between the cultish world of hard-core running and a broader audience. This hit-and-miss effort—with something, literally, lost in the translation and some lazy writing—will be welcomed by a small (probably athletic) audience, but may not reach readers who aren’t already on board with Murakami or running.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Murakami has been a runner for years (his results are on athlinks.com). I have actually seen him running along Charles river in Cambridge, as his stay there overlapped with mine. In his very personal account of the running experience, he describes how he began running seriously. I really love how he writes about his successes and failures, his feelings while running training runs and races, and his evolving attitude to running.
Because Murakami is a writer, his book is different that other runners’ accounts or advice on running. He simply writes better. He is able to make the reader feel his pain, elation, frustration, tiredness and pride associated with the training process and participation in races. I loved his first marathon choice – he ran the original route in reverse, from Athens to Marathon, alone, and wrote an article about his experience. Also, his account of an ultramarathon in Japan (100 km race) is breathtaking, and his notes on the transition into triathlons are very honest.
Sometimes he sounds a little too proud of himself – like when he comments on the female Harvard students passing him during his training runs in Cambridge – but this just makes the descriptions of his thoughts more believable and. He seems to be completely genuine, no matter what he writes, and this is also why I liked even his opinions on particular brands of running gear – they did not sound like a product placement at all, just a frank opinion on what he personally thinks is best for him. Particularly interesting are the thoughts on the impact of running on the rest of the author’s endeavors as a writer, pub owner and lecturer. Strikingly, he writes very little on his marriage and I would like to hear more on how he and his wife incorporate his running into their daily life as a couple, but I understand it might be a private matter.
I will return to this book for sure, I understand why it is a cult book among runners, and I wish Mr. Murakami many more years of satisfying running and triathlons!