193 of 200 people found the following review helpful
Zen running, Zen writing,
This review is from: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Hardcover)Haruki Murakami has run for his entire writing life, taking it up when he realised that the sedentary existence of a novelist was making him fat; he has eventually tackled more than twenty-five marathons, half-marathons aplenty, and even one gruelling 100 kilometre "ultra-marathon" whose odd spiritual benefits are described here in satisfying detail.
His simple approach to running is set down on the page with great skill and grace. But is it a hobby? An obsession? A way to keep fit? Or something more spiritual and meaningful? You can't help plumping for the latter when you read this book, so evocative and powerful are his thoughts on the way in which running requires tenacity, persistence, and a willingness to make the mind and body do things they don't really want to do. Running becomes a way of talking about all the difficulties of life - self-discipline, lack of willpower, the need for consistency.
On the other hand, he's also fantastic on the joys and delights of running: a "very attractive" young Japanese runner who smiles at him everyday on his Tokyo circuit; the mists of the wintry Charles river in Boston; a quick turn around Central Park reservoir in the company of fellow novelist John Irving.
If you aren't even slightly interested in running the book still has something to offer. It goes into detail about his philosophy of life, and he gives his thoughts about being a writer, which is intriguing for anyone who's read his strange and delightful fiction. But in the end I kept thinking about Zen buddhism - not a subject he directly touches upon. But there is something Zen about the simplicity with which he is determined to live his life, eliminating people he doesn't really want to see, pursuing single-mindedly his time and distance goals as a running, admitting that he really prefers just being on his own. The book is charming, completely thought-provoking, and I think very profound. You might even put on your trainers and go for a run after you read it. I have to admit, I did.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Aug 2008 11:51:21 BDT
Mr. C. P. Lancaster says:
This is a very nice review, Emma. I just finished reading the book myself, and was about to write a review, but you've said it all, so I think I'm going to leave it. I agree with you about the spiritual and philosophical side of this lovely little book.
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Aug 2008 16:43:16 BDT
emma who reads a lot says:
oh, write yours too! I love hearing other people's take on these things... I loved the book.
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Sep 2008 21:38:10 BDT
Phil M says:
emma, I just read the book in one go on the way up from a (frustrating work) day in London and I kept thinking Zen, Zen, Zen, so I agree with your comments. I love his novels but wasn't sure if I'd like this, but you're right, it's great
Posted on 27 Apr 2009 10:22:35 BDT
Dominic Buschi says:
Loved the book too and like you, it motivated me to put on my runners.
Posted on 11 Aug 2010 15:34:22 BDT
M. Tejederas says:
I entirely agree with your review. I have read the book in Spanish wich is my mother tongue but I like reading some reviews here because they are really good, just like yours. As you did, I also put my trainers on and went for a run when I finished the book.
Posted on 22 Jan 2012 15:19:22 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 24 Apr 2012 21:31:55 BDT]
Posted on 5 Mar 2013 11:48:58 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Mar 2013 11:49:37 GMT
Thanks for the fine review. Who though, I wonder, are these strange folk marking down pleasant subsequent remarks as "unhelpful." Alot of pointless frustration seeking release methinks. They'd be better off going for a a run, or, if the joints are not up to it, perhaps a cycle.
In reply to an earlier post on 7 May 2013 14:24:49 BDT
emma who reads a lot says:
Some people, and obviously only some, are just totally inexplicable. Thanks for your comment! I think that a lot - like, what does that person think comments are for, if not 'to comment', but there we go...... :-)
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