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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Cover of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

A Memoir

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 a writer. By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is rich and revelatory, both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in athletic pursuit.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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 a writer. By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is rich and revelatory, both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in athletic pursuit.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter Two Who's Going to Laugh at Mick Jagger?

    I'm on Kauai, in Hawaii, today, Friday, August 5, 2005. It's unbelievably clear and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. As if the concept clouds doesn't even exist. I came here at the end of July and, as always, we rented a condo. During the mornings, when it's cool, I sit at my desk, writing all sorts of things. Like now: I'm writing this, a piece on running that I can pretty much compose as I wish. It's summer, so naturally it's hot. Hawaii's been called the island of eternal summer, but since it's in the Northern Hemisphere there are, arguably, four seasons of a sort. Summer is somewhat hotter than winter. I spend a lot of time in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and compared to Cambridge--so muggy and hot with all its bricks and concrete it's like a form of torture--summer in Hawaii is a veritable paradise. No need for an air conditioner here--just leave the window open, and a refreshing breeze blows in. People in Cambridge are always surprised when they hear I'm spending August in Hawaii. "Why would you want to spend summer in a hot place like that?" they invariably ask. But they don't know what it's like. How the constant trade winds from the northeast make summers cool. How happy life is here, where we can enjoy lounging around, reading a book in the shade of trees, or, if the notion strikes us, go down, just as we are, for a dip in the inlet.

    Since I arrived in Hawaii I've run about an hour every day, six days a week. It's two and a half months now since I resumed my old lifestyle in which, unless it's totally unavoidable, I run every single day. Today I ran for an hour and ten minutes, listening on my Walkman to two albums by the Lovin' Spoonful--Daydream and Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful--which I'd recorded on an MD disc.

    Right now I'm aiming at increasing the distance I run, so speed is less of an issue. As long as I can run a certain distance, that's all I care about. Sometimes I run fast when I feel like it, but if I increase the pace I shorten the amount of time I run, the point being to let the exhilaration I feel at the end of each run carry over to the next day. This is the same sort of tack I find necessary when writing a novel. I stop every day right at the point where I feel I can write more. Do that, and the next day's work goes surprisingly smoothly. I think Ernest Hemingway did something like that. To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm. This is the important thing for long-term projects. Once you set the pace, the rest will follow. The problem is getting the flywheel to spin at a set speed--and to get to that point takes as much concentration and effort as you can manage.

    It rained for a short time while I was running, but it was a cooling rain that felt good. A thick cloud blew in from the ocean right over me, and a gentle rain fell for a while, but then, as if it had remembered, "Oh, I've got to do some errands!," it whisked itself away without so much as a glance back. And then the merciless sun was back, scorching the ground. It's a very easy-to-understand weather pattern. Nothing abstruse or ambivalent about it, not a speck of the metaphor or the symbolic. On the way I passed a few other joggers, about an equal number of men and women. The energetic ones were zipping down the road, slicing through the air like they had robbers at their heels. Others, overweight, huffed and puffed, their eyes half closed, their shoulders slumped like this was the last thing in the world they wanted to be doing. They looked like maybe a week ago their doctors had told them they have diabetes and warned them they had to start exercising. I'm somewhere in the middle.

    I love...
About the Author-
  • Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into forty-two languages. The most recent of his many honors is the Franz Kafka Prize.

    www.harukimurakami.com

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    "A fascinating portrait of Murakami's working mind and how he works his magic on the page." --The Plain Dealer"A brilliant meditation on how his running and writing nurture and sustain each other. . . . With spare, engaging prose . . . Murakami shares his runner's high." --Sports Illustrated"Enthralling. . . . A quirky, brilliant gem."--Time Out NewYork"Murakami's descriptive eye is as acute as ever. . . . Fascinating. . . . A glimpse into the creative process of one of the world's great writers." --The Hartford Courant"A genuine memoir, filled with gentle minutiae that truly communicates the rhythm of Murakami's daily life and work...Murakami actually offers himself whole." --Jesse Jarnow, Paste Magazine"A felicitous, casual series of reflections and anecdotes...[Murakami] has a Warholian way of tinting the mundane with mystery and restrained humor...Do still waters run deep? This paean to a runner's life keeps us, pleasurably, wondering." --Joel Rice, The Tennessean"[What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is] a graceful explanation of Mr. Murakami's intertwining obsessions, conveyed with his characteristic ability to draw unexpected connections. Running may be a matter of placing one foot in front of the other on the ground, but, as is so often the case with Mr. Murakami, terrestrial objects have a tendency to take flight." --Chloë Schama, New York Sun"Beautifully written and full of great running aphorisms...Anyone who knows perseverance can appreciate this work." --Helen Montoya, San Antonio Express-News"Engaging, insightful...What I Talk About When I Talk About Running extends [Murakami's] winning streak." --Jenny Shank, Sunday Camera"Murakami constructs this piecemeal narrative with the same masterful, accessible prose marked by humor and streaks of magic which has made him a household name, the same staggering insights, the same fascinating connections...this is exactly what makes Murakami so special: his ability to render everything a part of everything else, and to end with monumental poignancy...In an extremely personal, candid and moving way, the book makes one want to read and run at the same time." --Reynard Seifert, Austin Fit Magazine"[What I Talk About When I Talk About Running] provides a fascinating portrait of Murakami's working mind and how he works his magic on the page...[a] charming, sober little book." --John Freeman, Newark Star-Ledger"Highly recommended...Practical philosophy from a man whose insight into his own character, and how running both suits and shapes that character, is revelatory and can provide tools for readers to examine and improve their own lives."

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