I’ve delighted in Murakami’s novels (in English translation) for several years now, with the Wind-up Bird Chronicles and After Dark. This memoir jumped out at me since it combined a writer’s tale along with my latest obsession- fitness. A quick and worthwhile read… I might just be convinced to take up running now.
Murakami was at a baseball game one afternoon and decided to write a novel. In the midst of running his own jazz bar at the time, he scraped aside time to write and produced a work that was submitted to a contest. He forgot about it, only later finding that he won the contest. Around the same time he suddenly decided to take up running. Since his 30s, writing and running have been constants in his life.
After completing his solo marathon, as a single runner through the traffic of Athens to the village of Marathon, he sits in a cafe and drinks a beer. “It tastes fantastic, but not nearly as great as the beer I’d been imagining as I ran. Nothing in the real world is as beautiful as the illusions of a person about to lose consciousness.”
The mantra he read in a Parisian article about marathons: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
He runs to create the void, not to think about anything.
His cosmic ultra marathon experience where he pushed his body to complete 62 miles in under 12 hours; there was a “breaking through” that happened @ mile 47 where he felt no pain and would have kept on running forever if the finish line hadn’t been there. A state of flow.
“For me, the main goal of exercising is to maintain, and improve, my physical condition in order to keep on writing novels…”
The title a nod to Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.