Posts Tagged ‘haruki murakami’

Hello September, nice to see you again, but would you mind coming back later? I’m a bit busy at the moment with my earlier appointment….. Here are some tasty links for you to enjoy with your morning coffee and eggs (at least, that’s what I’m doing)…. JMW, my “Elipses” inspiration, passed me a link which I love so much I invited him to dinner next week. Jennifer Schuessler, blogging at Paper Cuts, is training for a marathon, and so posted obliquely about Murakami’s memoir, but she also brought up the old news that Once a Runner is at the top of the most-requested out of print books list. Shocker. We, of course, already know that it’s going to be published by S&S in Spring 2009 (here’s the pre-order link–beautiful jacket if you ask me), but clearly Jen’s not quite there yet. In any event, the best part of the post is the comments, even John L. Parker, Jr. himself adds a few choice words to the dialogue…  If you want to know if you fit the criteria of the “Core Runner Profile” as established by Running USA, click here to match up your demographic informatmation to that of the “typical” US male & female distance runner….. Even more interesting is the U.S. Road Race Trends Report, which breaks down participation in all distances of road races in 2007, and compares it to earlier years and breaks it out by gender. Basically, road running is “in,” and “up,” but tell us something we don’t know.  Here’s a chunky nugget: women’s participation in road races is finally even with that of men…. This interview with author and scholar Daniel Mendelsohn has nothing to do with running, I link to it only out of affection–he wrote one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read (The Lost) and I love what he said to his doctor about Prednisone…. and the only reason this has anything to do with my blog is because running through the city streets and parks is the most quintessentially New Yorker thing I’ll admit to doing…. and lastly, our girl Deena has posted a letter on her website with an update on her health. Big hugs, Deena.

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Lots of odds and ends to share tonight. But first, may I simply mention that I’ve taken off every Friday in August?

Runner’s Lounge Take it and Run Thursday post is up, and Julie is inviting all runners to post their Six-Word Running Memoir… Hhmm wonder where she got that idea?…. Thank you Whitey for tipping me off to this article by one of my favorite writers about one of my favorite runners. I totally cadged by boss’s copy of The New Yorker off her today so I could read its entirety… My TNT coach, Ramon Bermo, successfully ran his 100-mile Ultra Marathon last month, and has raised over $59,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Here is his amazing, inspiring and fascinating race report, as filtered through the Nike Running Blog (separately, he emailed all his donors the in-his-own-words version, which printed out to seven pages). 100 freaking miles, people! I also found this one… Speaking of raising money, a month or so ago I signed up with Team Fox to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation (for a cure for Parkinson’s Disease), and in exchange they will get me my bib to the Flora London Marathon in 2009. Stay tuned for more, but I probably won’t start fundraising until immediately after NYC…. The New York Times Book Review gives What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami a poor review, saying things like, “There are flashes of quality,” and “the potential readership… is 70 percent Murakami nuts, 10 percent running enthusiasts and an overlapping 20 percent who will be on the brink of orgasm before they’ve even sprinted to the cash register.” Yours truly gave this book a much kinder review here…I am so psyched for the Olympics, even though I acknowledge that there will be doping athletes competing, and that some of them will win medals & go undetected despite testing…There’s a ton of coverage already online, and in print, regarding last-minute athlete updates and predictions. I feel like I need a vacation to absorb it all…Even though he’s not a runner, Michael Phelps is hard to resist, I think (for me) it has something to do with his excellence… Names: Paula Radcliffe, Ryan HallLopez Lomong, Leo Manzano

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I am a runner who reads. I am a demanding and smart reader of all sorts of books, but am constantly on the hunt for well-written and thoughtful narratives — either fiction or nonfiction — about running. While I am willing to make certain exceptions to my standards for books about running, I still want to feel like the book was worth the effort (which is, concidentally, how I like to feel when I finish a race). I also read narrative books about running for inspiration and motivation in my own practice of the sport.

So when I heard the renowned novelist Haruki Murakami was writing a short memoir about his years of long distance running, I couldn’t help but get my hopes up that What I Talk About When I Talk About Runnning would be almost as good as setting a new PR. Knowing Murakami’s reputation, I thought if he could avoid self-indulgence, and maintain a thoughtful approach, chances were good that WITAWITAR would be an fine additon to the slim canon of books about running.

As expected, Murakami is an excellent writer, and, as hoped, gently and sincerely explains his experience of long distance running. There is much here that daily runners, marathoners, ultramarathoners, and even triathletes will identify with and understand. Non-runners and Murakami fans will appreciate the passages where he shares a little of his years as an owner of jazz clubs, how his first novels were written and published, and what the writing process is like for him. I wasn’t so interested in that and skipped ahead a little; I’d say about 25% of the book is non-running.

Reading this book made me feel like Murakami is now part of my circle of running buddies; the thoughts he shares are the kinds of runnerly, intimate things we chat about as we trot through a long & slow one. He understands about pain, specifically about the attraction marathoners have to the pain of mile 22.

WITAWITAR is worth reading if only for this one line:

“Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.”

Lucky for us, this isn’t the only line that captures the truth of running. Runners, I say to you: Read This Book for an articulation of why we love what we do.

*This review is also published on Goodreads.com. And read Sarah’s review of an excerpt that was published in The New Yorker several weeks ago.

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