What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir

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I don’t often re-read books, but this was a good choice. Murakami’s “running novelist” memoir turns out to also be a meditation on aging. This is not something I picked up on when I first read it, even though it wasn’t all that long ago. Murakami discusses his simultaneous growth as a writer and as a runner with a kind of disarming literalness. He avoids grand narratives or grand theories of mind and even, for the most part, poetics. But he’s writing from the position of a runner who is past his physical prime (he was something like 56 when he wrote it) and whose way of life has perseverance, in running in particular, at its core. It’s a short book that could have been even shorter, and it’s lousy with cliches and unpolished prose. Oh, and I don’t know what I hoped his taste in music would be, but Eric Clapton was definitely not on the list. But it’s a good book because he refuses to speak for anyone’s else’s experience, which in turn makes space for the reader to reflect on their own.