Wingfoot Magazine October 2009

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Information about Wingfoot Magazine October 2009

Published on January 28, 2016

Author: MichelleBourg


1. 14 October 2009 WINGFOOT What I Talk About When I Talk About Running By Haruki Murakami Knopf, 2008 180 pages In 2004, something hap- pened to Haruki Murakami that happens eventually to every runner who toes the line at a competitive event: a bad race. In his case, it was a mara- thon held in his native Japan, a race in which the cramping that set in at mile 18 turned the eight miles following into a slow, painful and humbling experience. Looking ahead to his next race, he decided to go back to square one with train- ing, a plan that reawakened an idea he’d had to put down the memories and impres- sions of running that had motivated him for more than 20 years. The result is “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” a memoir that bridges biography and poetic meditation. Writing is standard for Murakami, a bestselling nov- elist and Japanese translator of modern American fic- tion. Written as he trained for the 2005 ING New York City Marathon, the book combines his impressions and thoughts on his training, his state of mind at the time and accounts of prior events. He recounts his first shot at the marathon distance, a solo navigation in reverse of thelegendarycourseofPhidippidesinGreece(apassage containing one of the most succinct and dryly funny ac- counts of “hitting the wall” in print), takes us through the physical and mental pro- cesses encountered during the 62-mile Lake Saroma ultra- marathon in Hokkaido, Japan, and describes the frustration and comedy of errors of mas- tering biking and swimming as he takes up the triathlon. This is not an overtly dra- matic work; nothing “hap- pens.” A self-described medio- cre runner, Murakami doesn’t break records or mount the medal podium. Like most run- ners,heundertakessomething, completes it and goes on, bal- ancing his avocation with the ebb and flow of motivation, the demands of a professional life and the limitations of aging. Like life itself, the story is told in a series of moments. Mu- rakamihasauniquelyJapanesemasteryofthebeautiful imagery in small details—the swing of a girl’s ponytail, the color of leaves, the taste of a cold beer. And always there is music: he spins the songs that move him—’60s guitar anthems, ’80s Britpop and jazz—into the book’s virtual soundtrack. With its dry, self-deprecating humor and informal style, “What I Talk About” is much like a chance con- versation with a friendly, yet remote stranger. When he talks about running and its effect on his life, it’s ee- rily familiar. For all of us, “What’s really important is reaching the goal I set for myself, under my own power. I give it everything I have, endure what needs enduring and hope that in the end I’ll reach a place I’m content with. Or maybe just catch a glimpse of it.” “What’sreallyimportantisreachingthegoal Isetformyself,undermyownpower.Igiveit everythingIhave,endurewhatneedsenduring andhopethatintheendI’llreachaplaceI’m contentwith.Ormaybejustcatchaglimpseofit.” BookReview By Michelle Bourg

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