The strange nature of art that continues to baffle both creators and connoisseurs is the fact that more often than not, some of the artist’s most widely spanned, criticised and even hated work, is often one that is deeply personal, and oddly satisfying. This is the first Murakami non-fiction book I have read, and I headed into with a certain bias from people who’s opinion I respect – that of dislike. I can see why that’s the case.
From a person who has continuously drawn us into mysterious, often melancholic and strangely magical worlds, a book about an act as ordinary as running is…to be polite, drab. The book largely builds on how the author uses running as a means to improve his writing, his life, and in the process, achieve a certain semblance of self discovery. Apart from stray witty quips, the writing is dull, even for a memoir, let alone that of a celebrated author.
However, that being said, when I slept over the book, I felt a loose connect with what Murakami has tried to do. Through his own strange way, he has made a handbook or manual of sorts for anyone who dabbles in the arts. He can be faulted for largely approaching the issue empirically, and reverse inducing the logic from his own personal experience, but then that’s the beauty of the liberty an author is afforded. At no point he claims that the suggestions he spouts, or the ideas he espouses, are scientific or universal. They are mere anecdotes and guiding posts. In that sense, various metaphors, the primary one being the cramping of leg muscles during marathons and yet managing to finish the same (quite possibly an allegory for the writer’s block and its consequences), stand out.
Here, I must confess my personal cloudiness. I generally like Murakami’s work, and am an aspiring writer myself. So perhaps my mind is aggrandising what simply is what the title says it is – Murakami talking about running. So it is hard to say if it is my mind playing a trick, or Murakami working his his magic.