Saturday 25 October 2014

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Murakami

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running was the second book I read during last weekends Dewey 24 hour readathon.

I've now read and enjoyed Haruki Murakami's two latest books.
Before hitting his backlist, I wanted to find out more about Murakami himself. His memoir on running & writing seemed a logical choice.

Obviously, the title would suggest a Raymond Carver link. In fact "writer beloved to me" is how Murakami describes the link. He also obtained permission from Carver's widow to use Carver's short story title, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, as he did.

First up, I am not a runner. I am not into marathons, triathalons or intense physical training of any kind! Yet I found this book fascinating from start to finish.

Amongst the training schedules and bodily aches & pains, were lots & lots of interesting insights into Murakami's personality, his thoughts on life, growing old, jazz & writing. It was also a kind of travelogue with snapshots of the places he has lived and raced in, including Hawaii, Boston & Japan.

One can sense the aloneness that imbues his stories in some of his comments:

"Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent."

"this sense of a kind of double-edged sword. It protects me, but at the same time steadily cuts away at me from the inside."

"No matter how much I write, though, I never reach a conclusion. And no matter how much I rewrite, I never reach the destination."

"one of the privileges given to those who've avoided dying young is the blessed right to grow old."

"My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative, often self-centred nature that still doubts itself - that, when trouble occurs, tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny, about the situation. "

"in the final analysis what's most important is what you can't see but can feel in your heart."

I have several friends who enjoy a good marathon or two - this would be a perfect gift for them.
For Murakami lovers - this is a limited, but fascinating insight into the writer they love.


  1. This is one of the few Murakami books I've not yet read. But, my mother did, and while she is not a runner either, she loved it. I know that Murakami's nonfiction pieces are as good, in an altogether different way, than his fiction. I was mesmerized by his book Underground, which dealt with the the sarin gas attacks in Tokyo. I hope to read his one some day.

    1. I'll have to look out for Underground - thanks :-)

  2. This sounds like a fascinating book. I haven't read much Murakami, but enjoyed the things I have read. I think I'll have to look out for this one, because I'd love to have an insight (even if limited) on how his mind works.

    Thanks for pointing me in the direction of this book! :-)


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