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Run Run Run December 13, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Books, Reviews.

We live in the age of the extended social network, where anyone can learn anything about anybody they’d want to at the click of the mouse. By and large, this means that anyone can be a celebrity, which in turn implies that there is no detail too small about the lives of public figures and genuine celebrities to escape the watchful eye of an inquisitive public.

That said, I didn’t know author Haruki Murakami was a marathon runner until reading his book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

It might seem unusual for a literary artist of Murakami’s renown to write a memoir that revolves around his affinity for running. Yet it’s a testament to his talent that this almost-autobiography is rather fascinating. Surely it affords readers an opportunity to see a side of Murakami they otherwise would not (for instance, he was at one point the proprietor of a Jazz club in Japan). More than that, however, it’s a personal account of the travails of a marathon enthusiast and would-be triathlete, where each challenge faced and obstacle surmounted (note to self: be careful not to rub Vaseline on one’s goggles before the swim portion of a triathlon) becomes something that readers can identify with and rally around.

I am glad that I discovered this side of an author I’ve come to admire, not over the Internet but through this book and on his own terms. One doesn’t need to be an avid runner to appreciate What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, but it certainly helps. By and large, Murakami has managed to put into words the simple joys that accompany not just running, but more importantly running one’s own race.


1. phunction - January 14, 2010

i actually listened to the audio version of this book while i ran my first marathon and it was great. it was also my first murakami book and i’ll be sure to pick up some of his others after this.

and sorry for the intrusion – i just stumbled on your write up as a suggestion off of my own review of the book. cheers!

Brian L. Belen - January 14, 2010

No intrusion at all! The comments are very welcome. In fact, I wish more people who stumbled upon the little that I write did share their thoughts.

If you’re getting into Murakami, I’d recommend Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. That was the first one of his I read and I enjoyed it immensely.

Wish I could run a marathon, like you. Alas, I’m currently just aiming for a decent 10k. =)

Thanks for dropping by!

2. phunction - January 14, 2010

i have Kafka on the Shore and The Elephant Vanishes on my bookshelf still to be read, but i’ll take a look at your suggestion as well.

if you are still looking for books to read in 2010 (and you haven’t read these yet), i would highly suggest either The Book Thief or Shantaram, depending on your tastes and preferred style.

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