First things first. I didn’t actually intend to read this book. I wanted to buy ‘Born to run’ and ended up buying this book. After reading the book, I can safely say that it was a good choice. It is a translated version from Japanese
The book has a life like pace. It goes about slowly, but doesn’t ever meander. The book is about describing the events in a certain period. It talks about, in the initial pages, how he took to running and writing. More fascinating is the narration where he talks about deciding to write. It is endearing, to an extent, that he doesn’t want to paint it as anything but a whim.
Haruki Murakami is a popular author and he has a style of writing. I haven’t read enough of neither his books nor other great works to classify it specifically. What keeps you glued to the book are the trials and tribulations of the author. I don’t quite know if it was planned or by accident that he tends to concentrate on the fact that he too, like a lot of others, has failed. What keeps him going in the face of failure is his stubbornness.
He believes in the power of persistence. At the outset, he says
No matter how mundane an action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act
We get to know a lot about the man when he talks about the time he felt he wanted to write. He broke even and started making some money at the jazz bar he owned. As mentioned before, he decided on a whim that he wanted to write and despite a lot of people suggesting him not to, he decided to go ahead with the whim. One thing you can’t grudge him is his preparation – he shifts to peaceful environs and equips himself with everything that’s needed to write. It was around the same time that he developed the habit of running.
Running served needs other than that of fitness too. It helped him deal with many other things in life
When I am criticised unjustly (from my viewpoint, at least), or when someone I’m sure will understand me doesn’t, I go running for a little longer than usual. By running longer it’s like I can physically exhaust that portion of my discontent
Fortunately, he gives a lot of hope of us who want to be runners
When I first started running, I couldn’t run long distances. I could only run for about twenty minutes, or thirty. That much left me panting, my heart pounding, my legs shaky
Then there is ATHENS MARATHON. It was here that he encountered a difficult stretch, made even more difficult because of the terrain and also the weather conditions. He refused to give in. The temper got to him, a feeling common to him during the marathons, in the final stretch, but this time he was really angry. Not even the monument at Marathon can make him cool down. It is here that he acknowledges the helping hand that the locals give to the runners.
He also talks about ultra marathon and the triathlon he ran in. The problems he faced in both of them and how he tried his best to overcome them makes a good read
The way he talks about talent, focus and endurance is brilliant. When I read what he wrote about endurance, my mind immediately went to what Rafael Nadal said about it in his book. The private correspondence that he has with Raymond Chandler and how he built focus and endurance even when he didn’t write is breathtaking.
There’s very less of humour in the book, but the moment that can count as one is the occasion where he has address a gathering of students. He says he is comfortable in reaching out to them in English than Japanese, because when he talks in Japanese he has more than one word to explain a situation but since his vocabulary in English is limited, it helps him in sticking to the context.