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Paperback What I Talk about When I Talk about Running Book

ISBN: 0307389839

ISBN13: 9780307389831

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running

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Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

An intimate look at writing, running, and the incredible way they intersect, from the incomparable, bestselling author Haruki Murakami.While simply training for New York City Marathon would be enough for most people, Haruki Murakami's decided to write about it as well. The result is a beautiful memoir about his intertwined obsessions with running and writing, full of vivid memories and insights, including the eureka moment when he decided to become...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Murakami meditates

This book is a real surprise. I've read a fair amount of Murakami's fiction over the years and have come to really appreciate how his work - often similarly to David Lynch's - juxtaposes the mundane with the downright creepy. He's always had an ability to shoehorn the improbable into narratives that concern the most everyday activities. It was a surprise for me, then, to find so much joy in this little book of straight truth. Ostensibly it's a memoir, in which Murakami recounts the value that he's found in long-distance running - but there's a deeper message there. The writer meditates on ageing, on the role of the writer, on indolence - on life, really - in a way that is inspiring purely because it's not thrust at you as if by a motivational speaker. It just occurs, and seems to have an incredibly encouraging effect. I'm not suggesting that I particularly want to run a marathon tomorrow as a result - but the concept of self-challenge, of testing limits as part of an everyday process is made to appear incredibly appealing and natural. This is the story of a guy who decided to do something because it appeared logical to do so, and of the benefits of a quarter-century's following that process. I've other works of non-fiction by the author, but I've not been able to bring myself to give them a go, purely because I've been worried that they wouldn't measure up to the level of his fiction, but this little work has changed my mind. It's lovely. If you're a writer, or you're someone who's found an activity that seems to make things worthwhile, then there's a lot you'll identify with in here.

Brilliant, Beautiful

I did not know Murakami's work at all before I purchased this book. I saw it in the running section at a bookstore and decided to give it a read. As I was purchasing the book the sales staff got very excited- turns out they were all huge fans. One person had even done her M.A. Dissertation on Murakami! I was expecting some running inspiration. What was amazing is that I found an honest exploration into why someone does what they do, written in a way that was simple, moving, and eloquent. It had been so long that I cried when a book was over because it was so good, until I read this. If you are a fan of Murakami, then the details of his life will be interesting, and are outlined very nicely by other reviewers here. If you are like me and not familiar with his celebrity, then what you will find is a moving memoir that is humble, insightful, and through its simplicities, leaves you changed. Even if you cannot relate to his perspective, you come to understand him and feel a sense of empathy. If you are a runner, you will love this book, as Murakami speaks of his running rituals and motivations as metaphor for larger life lessons. If you are a writer, you will love this book, as Murakami illustrates some of the insights he has into himself as a writer and his writing process. If you just want a nice, easy read that is entertaining and touches the heart, you will love this book, because it does just that.

Murakami Talks About Life

I have not read any of Murakami's novels (this may change soon), but in his short stories he often employs subtle nostalgia for his characters' pasts. Often this nostalgia blurs the line with philosophy, and after reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, it became apparent why Murakami enjoys crafting his fiction this way: his style of writing mirrors his perspective on life. After traveling the world, training for and participating in marathons and triathlons, Murakami wants to share his runner's experiences and how they have molded him and his perspective on life. He presents us with a thought-provoking and entertaining narrative (some of it culled from journal entries and old magazines articles he wrote years ago, but most of it original stuff). The book is 1/3 travelogue, 1/3 self-help, and 1/3 runners guide. We read about the running environments and typical weather patterns where Murakami has trained: New York, Boston, Japan, Greece. We read about the mental discipline and courage it takes to be a long-distance runner. But, most of all, subtly emerging on each page, we read about Murakami the philosopher. His favorite topic is the merciless and stubborn passage of time and its effects on the body and mind. He writes candidly about his thoughts on training as he grows older (Murakami was in his late 50s when he wrote much of the book). He writes about what he thinks about as he runs (ususally nothing); he writes about discipline. To paraphrase one of Murakami's favorite quotes (I forget the source): "...pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." Murakami tells us that he was neither a natural novelist nor runner. He has had to work hard at both, but both are things which require a steady effort, skills with which Murakami prides himself. As we read along, we learn about Murakami's start as a novelist, his love for baseball, his strong character, and how he applied his strong character to defy his friends and relatives and open a restaurant, become a writer, and eventually, a marathon runner (even once running a 62-mile ultra-marathon). He had opened a restaurant before he became a writer, but one day, after the success of his first novel, he decided to close the restaurant and become a professional writer. It was at this time when he also decided to start running and quit smoking (in that order). Although the chronology of the book might be a little out of order (the book is not structured chronologically), and this might throw a few more traditional readers, this wasn't a problem. The translation seemed genuine (although I can't read Japanese!), as the translator kept all of the little Murakami-isms one would expect: little phrases such as "...as I mentioned before," or little tangents into the second person. The style remains informal throughout. Despite its ostensible subject matter (running), this is a book for everyone, because its real subject matter is not about running -- it's about how Murakami gathers meaning from

Run Haruki-san Run!!

You do not have to be a runner to be inspired by this little book. Murakami's memoir details his hard work, perseverance and dedication with regard to a certain craft, long-distance running, and the positive affect it has had on his life and writing. Murakami's lessons can applied in life no matter what your profession or passions may be. For myself, his dedication, hard work, focus, goal-setting and commitment to a quality life are all inspiring. Plus, this a very enjoyable, fun read.

Wonderful running memoir by one of my favorite authors.

I have placed this book atop my listmania group of literary running books. Haruki Murakami's marvelously entertaining WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING is about his running, yes, but it also touches on other interesting ideas, including the author's affinities for music, literature, and baseball, Japanese and American: "As if to lament the defeat of the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs (they lost every game in a Sox vs. Sox series with Chicago), for ten days afterward a cold rain fell on New England. A long autumn rain. Sometimes it rained hard, sometimes softly; sometimes, it would let up for a time like an afterthought, but not once did it clear up." "From beginning to end the sky was completely covered with the thick gray clouds particular to this region. Like a dawdling person, the rain lingered for a long time, then finally made up its mind to turn into a downpour. Towns from New Hampshire to Massachusetts suffered damage from the rain, and the main highway was cut off in places." Murakami says he took the title of his book from the title of the Raymond Carver short story collection, WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT LOVE, and thanks Carver's widow for giving him permission. Murakami has translated many of Carver's works into Japanese, as well as other American fiction. He says: "One other project I'm involved in now is translating Scott Fitzgerald's THE GREAT GATSBY, and things are going well. I've finished the first draft and am revising the second. I'm taking my time, going over each line carefully, and as I do so the translation gets smoother and I'm better able to render Fitzgerald's prose into more natural Japanese." "It's a little strange, perhaps, to make this claim at such a late date, but GATSBY really is an outstanding novel. I never get tired of it, no matter how many times I read it. It's the kind of literature that nourishes you as you read, and every time I do I'm struck by something new, and experience a fresh reaction to it. I find it amazing how such a young writer, only twenty-one at the time, could grasp--so insightfully, so equitably, and so warmly--the realities of life. How was this possible? The more I think about it, and the more I read the novel, the more mysterious it all is." Music, baseball, literature, and running. My kind of writer. Runners looking for a similar read might want to try Don Kardong's THIRTY PHONE BOOTHS TO BOSTON. Readers new to Murakami who enjoyed this one might be inspired to try one of the author's many novels, and I highly recommend THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE.
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