Book #49: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

More a pleasant diversion than a weighty contribution to his body of work, Haruki Murakami's first "memoir" is an attempt to express his love of long distance running, something he's been pursuing for over 25 years.  What I Talk About When I Talk About Running also talks about his writing process, but as an extension of his running, and as such it's a brief but penetrating look at the total creative process of a individual.

If you've ever read any of Murakami's novels you'll definitely the little quirks that flesh out his protagonists present in the author.  A former jazz club owner, Murakami turned to writing at about the same time he began running seriously, and the two go hand in hand all over the world, from the New York marathon, to practice runs during his professorship in Cambridge, and from quiet running while on vacation in Hawaii to a grueling 62-mile run in Japan.  Each of his experiences and his methods of preparation read like his novels - there's a lot of understatement, but everything moves in such a way that as we creep closer and clsoer to the framework that ties the book together - Murakami's prep for the New York City marathon after ccoming to rips that's past his peak as runner - you're caught up as much as you are in any of his fiction, prose works.

If there's a complaint it's that for such a long distance runner and writer the book is almost nototirously short - jst under 200 pages.  But Murakami states up front that this is not not meant to be anything more than what the title (borrowed with permission Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love) suggests, that this is his experience of trying to explain what it means to run.