Sunday, December 2, 2012

Review: "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" by Haruki Murakami

Again, much like with his book Underground, I would not be reading a book about running if Haruki Murakami did not write it. But this memoir of his, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running goes down more smoothly than his somewhat dull book about the Tokyo attacks. It is a short novel that works as a kind of mediation on the act of running and writing, and as a personal story of one man’s journey to self-satisfaction through the pursuit of athletic activities. But, whatever you do, do not call it an exercise manual. Murakami is not here to tell you that running is going to make you feel better, as he says himself at one point in the book. I, personally, don’t like running or jogging. I prefer tranquil walks where I can enjoy the scenery and my thoughts. He never tries to glamorize the life of a runner, and if running turns you off, his stories about running marathons, ultra marathons, and triathlons will make you shiver in the ways he describes what goes through his head as he accomplishes these things. If I had to pick out one aspect of the book that I did not like, it would have to be some of the sections where he describes the marathons he runs. Some are interesting, such as the one he runs in Greece, but the descriptions of his runs in New York and the triathlon he runs (coincidentally named the Murakami Triathlon) get real repetitive. But this is a very humble memoir, and the sections where he talks about his life as a writer, including the moment where he decided to become a writer at the age of 29 are really interesting, and get me excited for the time when this great author writes a true memoir.
Rating: 4/5

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