Thanks to an email from Disappointed Kid, I learned that Haruki Murakami's new book is called What I talk about when I talk about running (the title apparently a Raymond Carver reference). I have a strange relationship with Murakami, in that most of his books leave me cold, apart from South of the Border, West of the Sun, one of my favourite novels. At the same time, I find Murakami fascinating: how can you not love a writer who was "inexplicably inspired to write his first novel … while watching a baseball game"?
Apparently Murakami took up running in 1982 and now runs long
distance, aiming to complete a marathon each year. His new book
reflects on the links between running and his writing and comes out on August 7th (just before the half-marathon!). An extract of the new book was published in the Guardian:
"Most ordinary runners are motivated by an individual goal: namely, a time they want to beat. As long as he can beat that time, a runner will feel he's accomplished what he set out to do. The same can be said about my profession. In the novelist's profession, as far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as winning or losing. Maybe numbers of copies sold, awards won and critics' praise serve as outward standards for accomplishment in literature, but none of them really matters. What's crucial is whether your writing attains the standards you've set for yourself. In this sense, writing novels and running full marathons are very much alike. For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. I'm at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that's not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday."
Which leaves me waiting like ginquinn for the release date of the new Murakami book.
"Raymond Chandler once confessed that even if he didn't write anything, he made sure he sat down at his desk every single day and concentrated. I understand the purpose behind his doing this. This is the way Chandler gave himself the physical stamina a professional writer needs, quietly strengthening his willpower."