Nonfiction Monday is being hosted this week by Amy O’Quinn.
“I didn’t become a novelist because someone asked me to. One day, out of the blue, I wanted to write a novel. And one day, out of the blue, I started to run…I’ve always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I’m wrong, but I won’t change…all I see is my own nature. My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative, often self-centered nature that still doubts itself—that, when troubles occurs tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny about the situation…”
I’m a Haruki Murakami reader. Though I haven’t read all his works, I’ve read most of them. When this book came out, I was dying to get myself a copy. I surfed the web for book reviews, some were so-so, and others were critical. According to a few reviews the book was too discordant, informal and less superior to his works of fiction. But I think some of the reviews missed the mark and read the book with a misguided expectation.
I have to agree it isn’t like his novels. This doesn’t swoon you over or tickle your brain. It’s a straightforward journal-like compilation of a book. But if you really read the book, at the prologue the author explains what the book really is. It’s a journal. It’s supposed to capture his thoughts and insights as they came. What must be appreciated about this seemingly disjointed book is that it opens the reader to the inner workings of the author’s mind. If you are a fan, then it makes you understand him more.
Another review I read said something about it being useless, snidely commenting that no one cares to know about the thoughts of the author on running. Murakami called it a memoir and any memoir is slightly self-indulgent; but whether one admits it or not the fact you picked up his memoir speaks of how you care to know about his life and his thoughts. As a reader, I enjoyed the parts wherein he veers away from talking about running to other insights and or thoughts. It was at these points that I could relate to his work and his life. Like any book, a good book to a reader isn’t in the technicalities, but in the author’s ability to involve the reader.
This book isn’t for everyone. It is first and foremost for people who know Murakami and who want to understand the man behind the fiction. It is also for runners. I have a feeling that runners could relate to his experiences—the challenges and pleasure in the sport. It is for loners, for those who seek to be understood. This book resonated with me, as I am all three. It is an incredible experience to able to read something and feel as if you are looking in the mirror.
I applaud Murakami for his stubbornness and his unbending will to challenge himself. I envy him for it. I have yet to be able to say that I do things because I want to, not because someone told me to. That will be the day. Until then, I will have to satisfy myself with reading Murakami’s work. This book’s strong points are its candor, humor, insight and wisdom. We can criticize it for its technicalities or literary-worthiness, but that would be a waste of time. Murakami was never for that and he wouldn’t care about it. All that matters to him is his reader connects to his work. I suggest that the skeptic pick up this book and read it for what is it—-a journal written by a rather famous author. If it doesn’t work for you, then I suppose we can’t force the issue.