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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 the Digital edition.
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 the Digital edition.
Top customer reviews
Aside from the joy of gaining insight from his decades of experience, I found the author to be respectable, humble, and generally just a likable guy. Id' love to have coffee with him pick his brain some more. I found his humility and honesty refreshing and rare in a field where I am accustomed to sensationalized, horn-tooting tales of superatletes. I liked that he opened up about limits that come with aging, (though he's still faster than I may ever be) and how the love of running can wax and wann over time. Humility is an aspect often left out when people talk about running, but I find that at times I leave for a run expecting to feel a great sense of accomplishment, and return humbled instead, and those runs are every bit as important. I am grateful that he touched on those feelings.
Running is such a metaphor for life, it only makes sense that a writer may be an avid runner. I often write in my head while I run, and I enjoyed this account of someone who has been doing both for decades.
For the first quart of the book, I wondered when the book would come to a point. I guess I was expecting some epiphany. Once I passed that point, I realized that there was no point. I'd passed he same point with my running. I could never explain it to non-runners. Of course it doesn't make sense to run a marathon, not to mention running the second, third and umpteenth marathon. You do it because you like it. If you don't like it, don't do it.
The great epiphany that I got, was that the author Murakami did a pretty good job at explaining what he goes through when he prepares for a marathon and runs the actual thing. And that my experience was pretty similar to his. Except that he does a much better job at describing the process than I ever could.
In that sense, I would recommend this book to anybody who has a friend who's into running, and they have a need to understand why this person is doing this thing that doesn't make any sense on any (evolutionary) level, but is still loving every nanosecond of it. Despite all the pain and injuries and suffering.
Having read it as a runner, I can just say that Murakami is right about it all. But if you run marathons, you don't need to be convinced about that. Otherwise you wouldn't run in the first place.