Murakami does a great job of explaining, in simplest terms, what it is like to be a runner. He breaks down and puts into words the hardest things to explain about running; the feeling you get when running, what goes through your mind when running, etc. This book is easy to relate to because the author’s use of simple words makes the content he is trying to portray understandable. However, I found it hard to keep interest in the novel because Murakami primarily talks about himself. Every other sentence in the book begins with the word “I.” I understand that this is a book about his life experiences with running, but it really turned me off the way he constantly talked about himself. Running is a personal activity during which time you get to know yourself and your body on a much deeper level, but I don’t think it would have hurt Murakami to speak more of not only his experience, but the experience of those closely related to him and affected by his decisions to keep running against the odds. I would like to hear more about his wife, parents, close friends, and others.
He did, however, touch on the community of running, which I think is one of the more important aspects of being a runner, but I think with his very relaxed writing style, he could have easily talked about the community runners build among themselves because of their mutual experiences and challenges. As I read the novel, I felt increasingly jealous of Murakami and how easily running came to him. In one part of the novel, he states that he feels no pain when running, which made me want to stop reading because although this is a memoir, I feel like feeling no pain in the first twenty two miles of a run in utterly impossible. Although his writing style is very relatable, some of his experiences, like the aforementioned, aren’t. For instance, he ran around a building seven times for a grand total of 22 miles and felt nothing, it seems like everything he put his mind to, he conquered. Which, toward the end of the novel was very inspiring, but during the novel, it was frustrating, to me, a new runner.
Also, the fact that he was still a very successful runner after smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, infuriated me. I eat a cheesesteak and I am running it off for a month and a half. As I approached the conclusion of the novel, my jealousy of Murakami’s perfect running body wore off and I was able to catch some of the wisdom he was giving to other runners. I thoroughly enjoyed the last few pages of the novel and found them encouraging, so when I finished reading, I felt like I should go on a run. I believe I was very bias in reading the book because the author’s personality and character differed heavily from my own. The author is very quiet, to himself, and not competitive whereas I am the loudest, most talkative, social person I know and I thrive off competition. Perhaps because of these differences in personality and style, I did not enjoy this book as much as I could have.
In conclusion, Murakami speaks from experiencing running for 50+ years. I am in my third year of running. As a novice runner, I feel that I have much to learn from this old, wizened author and I am taking away a lot of valuable lessons from the 60 year old Nobel laureate.