I’ve just started reading Haruki Murakami’s ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’, which is ideal for me as both an aspiring writer and runner. It’s a short book, and although it’s biographical it’s written in exactly the same sort of style as IQ84, which I guess makes sense. It’s refreshing to know that’s actually what Murakami is like, rather than a way of writing reserved for fiction. You get the sense that it’s how he speaks as well.
It’s also very interesting, because the style of IQ84, and this book, is quite strange. It’s methodical, precise, and sure. He freely admits quirks around the way he lives his life – giving each successive task everything he has, enjoying time spent alone and dislike of being told what to do. It’s made me wonder whether this is true for everyone; are we all that weird? I suppose we must be, and maybe Murakami is only more honest about it. It’s a nice thought in one way, that it makes me think everyone has the potential to write a novel, and for it to be worthwhile. It also makes for a much more interesting world. When you look at how pigeon-holed society seems to be at the moment (I’m biting my lip not to say ‘these days’, because I know it’s not true) that’s reassuring.
Murakami writes about running, as laid out in the title, but the book is more about how running fits into his life; its similarities to writing, and why he has decided to live his life the way he does.
Reading about running always makes me want to go do it – I started halfway through ‘Running like a girl’, swept up in stories about marathons and the transformative effect running seems to have. The same is true with this book. It made me remember why I started running, and what a shame it would be if I let that all slip away.
Although Murakami is modest (to the point of irritation for me – I think it downplays something more important than the actual work itself if you dismiss deserved praise) this is actually helpful, as he sets out in stages exactly how he developed the motivation to write and run so regularly and the philosophy which underpins this. It makes the magical secrets of creativity seem a little easier to unlock.
All in all, it’s an interesting book, and one I’m looking forward to finishing. Murakami is a fascinating writer and this book has made me more sure than ever that I want to read more of his work, and that I want to write myself.