What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
by Haruki Murakami
In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he’d completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a dozen critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and even more importantly, on his writing.
Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and takes us to places ranging from Tokyo’s Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston among young women who outpace him. Through this marvelous lens of sport emerges a panorama of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his greatest triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after fifty, of seeing his race times improve and then fall back.
Photo and summary from Goodreads.com
2015 is the year of me possibly dipping into Haruki Murakami’s writing. Okay. That’s not true. It is the year of me dipping into Murakami’s writing, but I don’t know how much further I will go. This year I have listened to The Strange Library and now I have listened to What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. The first title is a more recent title and is only an hour long in the audio format. This title, as you can read from the cover, is a memoir. Because these works are not things Murakami are really known for, I feel like I am skirting around his edges.
What I really liked about this memoir was how much I ended up liking Murakami as a person. I think it’s because he is so built up in my head (you know, Murakami this, Murakami that, literature literature literature) but in this memoir he seemed so humble and just a simple man dedicated to his crafts. Of course this is a memoir, so he has control over the message, but whether or not that is an accurate picture of him it made my reading experience a lot more enjoyable.
While this is a very conversational story about Murakami’s relationship with running, he also delves into his relationship with writing. He talked a little bit about some of his philosophy, which was a surprise treat for me. He also touches on aging and the surprises of being on the other side of “old.”
I particularly enjoyed the format I read this. The audiobook is narrated by Ray Porter, and to me he ended up being a great fit for the story. His own voice is measured and calm, which really fit with the tone of the book. It also matched the style of the book- it really felt like Murakami just talking to you.
If you’re interested in…
…short snippets into a very private writer’s life
…a book discussing passion in running and writing
…a story that takes its time
…an audiobook where you feel like you’re sitting on the floor listening to someone reflect on life
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running might be for you!