Until I listened to "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running," Stephen King's "On Writing" was my favorite nonfiction memoir-like book by a novelist. Both books are a rare treat, peeling back the veil on the novelist's mind to reveal something of their daily life and motivation for writing. While a significant portion of Murakami's book is indeed focused on running and his thoughts during his runs (which are usually quite philosophical), he also shares experiences from his stay in Cambridge MA, his earlier career as a tavern owner, his search for a swim coach, and how he runs in order to do his "day job" more effectively. I found this book absolutely fascinating and like King's "On Writing," it gave me a greater appreciation for Murakami as a writer. Highly recommended.
murakami is a neurotic, nonathletic, indulged and observant guy
he works hard to make a genuine, deliberate life for himself
society's demands for conformity and interaction surround him
in the midst of this struggle he discovers long distance running
he does it because "... it suits me..." / it lets him be himself
in the process of running he becomes his own therapist and hero
the book doesn't try very hard to dazzle or entertain or engage
murakami wants to connect to those who have travelled the same path
he then shares the process by which he came to know his true self
in an increasingly sedentary and interactive world he found a way out
he has created a private, moveable, reliable place to retune his compass
if that speaks to your soul great / if not, murakami would say "...move on..."
Expatriate American academic with high, middle, and low-brow taste.
I had no problem with the narrator -- his reading is unaffected. I loved the first half of the book, as the writer made philosophical connections between running and writing. His claim that writing is like summoning up a toxin from deep inside will stay with me forever. But in the second half of the book, it succumbed to the common error of fitness books by focusing only on the details of his own training, goal-setting, disappointments, and I stopped caring. Still, compared to the jockish egoism of so many running books, I was impressed and identified strongly with Murakami's individualist outlook and will now check out some of his novels.
This is the first Murakami audio book I've ever listened to and I wasn't disappointed.
I won't repeat the summary of what this book is about (the title pretty much says it all anyway), but I really enjoyed Murakami's anecdotes. Being a Murakami fan for many years now beginning with Norwegian Wood, it was refreshing to know more about the writer behind all the beloved books I've read over the years.
The narration is excellent. Ray Porter does an admirable job, embodying Murakami's "voice" so much that I find it hard to believe it isn't Murakami narrating these anecdotes himself.
When I listen to the book, it feels like I'm hearing an old friend recounting his stories. I've had this audiobook for close to a year now, but I return to it time and time again. Just like an old friend, I find comfort in his words and motivation in his trials/triumphs.
Perfect for those who wish to appreciate Murakami at a human level.
I'm a runner and a big fan of Murakami's novels, so I was excited to read this book. It wasn't terrible, but I didn't love it either. He meanders around a number of topics, injects race stories here and there, and does the usual introspection we'd expect, but the book lacks any real point or take-away. I can't recommend it.
Murakami- San's memoir prose is as honest, challenging, insightful and captivating as his fiction. Recommended even if you don't like running.
This book helped me understand my wife who is an avid runner. It was interesting to hear why they do it (or at least one or some of the reasons). It may even have motivated me enough to start running.
The beginning promised much in the way of the inner voice of the runner - and the comparison between running and writing seemed as though it might reveal some significant insights. As the book progressed, I got the feeling of being stuck on a long run with a companion self-obsessed about detailing his superiority for the fact that he laces on some running shoes and thinks that it's compelling for one to hear about all the little things that bothered him in life.