"What I talk about when I talk about running" is a memoir by Haruki Murakami, describing his lifestyle as a marathon runner and triathlete. The book consists of a series of essays and stories describing his history as a runner, the relationship of running to writing, and the experience of running with advancing age.
One of the most important things I picked up from this book is a hint to Murakami's characteristics and writing. Murakami's books often feature characters in unusual, if not unreal circumstances, reacting to the challenges thrust upon them with a somewhat nonchalant attitude. I wondered if this was a literary technique, or is this is just Murakami's natural technique. Based on this book, I would say it is his natural voice. For what I found so charming about this book is the phlegmatic attitude that Haruki Murakami, world famous novelist and avid athlete, is so straightforward about his accomplishments. When discussing both his writing and his running, he is very modest, as if the adventures of a cultural landmark/extreme athlete were just the lifestyle that he happened to be chosen for, as others might be bus drivers who play bridge. He describes his struggles to keep up good writing and good running, admitting to shortfalls and times of lack of inspiration. None of it seems like false modesty, or the famous Japanese self-effacement. Murakami really is just an ordinary guy. Which is not to say that he doesn't talk about some very transcendental feelings, or put emotion and affection into his life of running. He just describes them starting from a very neutral viewpoint.