What I Talk About When I Talk About Running By Haruki Murakami
Murakami is a renowned veteran writers who was first published back in 1979 and is still going strong today with a new work due out this year at some point. As you can probably guess from the title of this 2009 themed memoir it’s a book about running.
Well kind of.
Actually its equal part memoir, training diary and a reminiscence on life and ageing. We learn about Murakami’s hobbyist running and triathlon career but we also hear his views on literature, on the creeping threat of ageing and its affects on his body and also about his early years pre-writing as the owner of a Jazz club. It has a philosophical edge as he details what his sport has contributed to his writing and vice-versa.
I have to confess I’ve not read any of Murakami’s works before and the sole reason I picked up this decade old book was because I’m trying to rekindle my love for the sport of running and energise myself for some long distance events later this year.
So personally as a man who has ran several marathons of differing lengths over the years, and also as a man who puts his heart and soul into writing on a daily basis – this book spoke to me on a deeply personal level.
On one hand as an aspiring author, Murkami’s story and advice regarding writing are insightful and interesting, especially the rather happenstance way he became a writer in the first place, as if almost by chance.
On the other his travelogue recounting of some of his more adventurous and extraordinary running feats are fascinating on a personal and physical level. There are beautifully written accounts of running the original marathon route from Athens to the small town of Marathon, and a grueling detailing of an ultra-marathon he undertook in rural Japan.
62 miles and over 11 hours of running!
Pure madness really but as a runner myself I can understand his motivations and can relate to the pain he described as his muscles began cramping as the distance grew.
So in lies the glory and the pitfall of this succinct book. My two main passions in life have been running and writing so I sit right in the middle of the Venn diagram for this book. It felt almost as if it was written for me at times such was the level of kinship I felt for Murakami, I share both his passions so I was captivated on every page.
But so in lies the pitfall of this book – would you enjoy it if your not a runner or a writer?
Well, probably not in truth.
There is a lot of detail and insight into Murakami as an author, but running as a sport and what it has contributed to his life and to his writing, are the main crux of the piece.
This is a beautifully written work and a book I will revisit at regularly in the future no doubt, but its main attraction for me is the detailed and relatable dissection of a sport Ive been practicing for years.
If you’re a runner, or athlete of any kind, you will love his accounts of endurance sports and the dedication and training required – also If you’re a mega Murakami fan you will get a kick out of glimpsing the life of this private writer.
But if you are neither then there probably isn’t that much here for you.