27. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running — Haruki Murakami
28. The Hatch — Colin Brown
this week — 34.21
to date — 515.63
Alright so I’m in a bad mood. I’ll get to that later. Anyway, Murakami. I think that the first thing that I heard about this book was, “Not his best work.” Suffice it to say that Murakami fans seem to dislike What I Talk About When I Talk About Running; however, I am not a Murakami fan. That sounds bad so let me qualify. I’m reminded of being much younger and person X asks me if I like band Y and I have never heard band Y and therefore I have no opinion of band Y so I reply, “No, I do not like them.” Which is then interpreted as I hate band Y when in fact I simply do not like band Y because I have never heard [of] band Y. I neither dislike nor like band Y. I have no opinion. But the question was, do you like band Y. To which the only answer is, “Nope, I do not like them.” So I digress. I cannot tell you much about Murakami, or if this book is any good within the context of his catalogue, but I can honestly say it is my favourite book of his that I’ve read. I will even go so far as to say that I found this book, not inspirational, but motivating, and I can see myself going back to it from time to time. I didn’t like all of it, for instance I found the bit in the last third or so where he posits some doubt about global warming and tries to imply that the scientific consensus on the matter is not really a consensus, and really, really makes himself look like an ignorant ass, a bit trying given his massive influence and readership. But there it is. Maybe that’s why it’s not his best work. I should read some more and decide for myself. As far as books about running go, it was pretty good. Yesterday on the bus and Skytrain I read The Hatch and then last night I went to the 2016 Talonbooks spring launch and last year Colin Brown headlines the launch with readings from The Hatch and all that is to say that it took me a year to get around to reading Brown’s book. I think I need to revisit it and explore more of the Surrealist themes, but I probably won’t because there’s a lot of other stuff to read. But I liked it. Brown is one of those interesting characters in my life. We all know people that we mostly only know from social media and seeing them in the real world is sometimes weird. I especially like to make it weird because I have zero qualms about saying hello and trying to have a conversation with someone that I “only” know on social media. The results vary. Brown is in a different category, though, because he is an active member of the board of The Capilano Review society for which I was the managing editor for over two years, and yet interacting with him outside of a Capilano Review context always seems to inspire the “social media friend” reaction. “Hi Colin.” But in all honesty it could just be that he has no idea who I am. His book is good though. You should read it.
So I mentioned that I’m in a bad mood and the reason I’m in a bad mood is because I went for a run today for what was supposed to be me last or second-to-last run before the BMO Half Marathon on Sunday and at around kilometre six my knee started saying, “Nope” and by seven-and-a-half it was definitively NOPE and for the first time since I started running seriously I had to stop and walk. I ended up walking about two kilometres of my 12.5 km route and I’m not happy and I’m really concerned that Sunday is going to be ruined by this stupid knee. So I’m in a bad mood. Oh but I broke 500 km so far this year this week.
25. For Your Safety Please Hold On — Kayla Czaga
26. The Apothecary — Lisa Robertson
this week — 25.15
to date — 481.42
I’d read and heard a lot of hype around Kayla Czaga’s first poetry collection and I’ve wanted to read it for a while, and I finally picked up a copy at Russel’s Books in Victoria when I was there for the Easter weekend. I really like that bookstore. Its poetry section is a gem for contemporary Canadian stuff, especially Western Canada stuff. The collection is really great and it did not disappoint in spite of the hype. My favourite is the long piece Many Metaphorical Birds that completes the collection. I’m a sucker for existentialist philosophy. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The day after getting home from Barcelona, The Paper Hound hosted a poetry reading featuring Michael Barnholden and Catriona Strang and it was really great and I left with half a dozen Lisa Robertson titles. I don’t know what the connection is there, except for The Giantesses, I guess. Incidentally, Robertson is going to be in town in mid-May to read alongside another Giantess Christine Stewart at READ Books over on Granville Island. I’m excited. It should be great.
I Sun Ran on Sunday. It was another gong show. I can’t decide if it’s become too big or just poorly managed. I set a new personal best time for 10 km, which is great, but I’m not sure it was worth the near panic attack I had after 30 minutes corralled with a few thousand people. I understand that pretty much everyone lies about their expected finish time when they register (I don’t, but I’m beginning to wonder…) but the problem was the people manning the corrals did zero to segregate bib colours and consequently the yellow section was flooded with every other colour, not to mention at least a half dozen strollers. Seriously. Fucking strollers. Then the number of people already walking at the 1 km marker. I’m not quick, but for the second half of the race I was passed by maybe ten people. I like the Sun Run, but if they cannot figure out how to manage it better I might stop participating. There seem to be a bunch of alternatives that likely have less aggravation. But it’s my own fault, really. It seems like every other post here is me lamenting how much I dislike other people when I’m running, so what the hell was I expecting joining a race with 42,000 other people. The BMO Half Marathon is in ten days. I’m hoping for a dearth of crowds at the start line. Fingers and laces crossed.
Some Stuff Read:
The Voyeur’s Motel — Gay Talese — New Yorker, April 11, 2016
Rachel Maddow Interview — Playboy (USA), March 2016
The Morning After — Karl Ove Knausgaard — Playboy (USA), March 2016
What XOXO Really Means — Emma Rathbone — New Yorker, April 18, 2016
The Assad Files — Ben Taub — New Yorker, April 18, 2016
Binge-watching Game of Thrones — Clive James — New Yorker, April 18, 2016
these weeks — 31.15
to date — 456.27
I’m sort of cheating putting two weeks into one post but I was traveling eight of the fourteen days and it seemed an easy way to get past this little blip in my reading-running-writing endeavor, so here it is. I didn’t read much before, during or after my jaunt to Barcelona. Before was overly occupied with getting ready to go. During was entirely occupied with doing stuff. And after was recuperation, and, let’s be honest, getting caught up on The Division. If you don’t know what that is, that’s ok. Anyway, I knew I wasn’t going to read much so I only took my iPad, preloaded with a few books I thought that I might attempt, along with the new, no-nudie March issue of Playboy I managed to procure on PDF (ahem…) and a full-access New Yorker app graciously given to me by the lovely SC. I didn’t read any of the books. I find it difficult to read books on airplanes for whatever reason. I did consume a bunch of articles, a few of which I listed above, in the order I recall that I read them. I think. The Voyeur’s Motel was entirely captivating from start to finish. I’d very curious to read the book, but I wonder if the article was just the right length. I’m not sure it needs a book. Maybe. I quite like Rachel Maddow, and I enjoyed her interview. She’s a lot smarter than I thought, and I thought she was pretty damn smart. Does Knausgaard really expect me to believe he was in his 20s before he masturbated for the first time? Really? Creative non-fiction indeed…. For a short bit I signed emails Godspeed. It didn’t make the list, but I thought what Rathbone included was pretty great. Assad is terrifying. I had no idea. I had a bit of an idea. But didn’t think it was this bad. But I also wonder if it was a propaganda piece. James’ rundown made me want to re-binge-watch Game of Thrones in advance of the new season starting up in a couple weeks. That’s definitely going to cut into my reading time.
I ran three times, including today. I didn’t run at all in Barcelona. The Sun Run is on Sunday and while I’m not worried about it I really want to smash my last year’s time and I’m not feeling overly confident that I’m going to do all that well. A year ago I’d run 10 km less than a half dozen times in my life. Now a 10 km run is my short run. I find it incredible how much I’ve progressed in the past year. I certainly don’t regret the time off in Barcelona, but I think next year I’ll plan my spring trip a week or two earlier. I also wish that I would have run in Barcelona, and I think I’m going to make an effort to run at least once where ever I travel from now on, just for the experience of doing it. Turns out we stayed not too far from some great running and I sort of feel like I missed out.
24. The Shadow of the Wind — Carlos Ruiz Zafon
this week — 46.08
to date — 425.12
Sometimes I’m reading a book and I think that it’s going to get better or at least I’m hoping that it’s going to get better and sometimes it does and other times it does not and then I get to wondering if I’ve wasted my time and if I just should have stopped reading this book that I’m not really enjoying and forego the sense of accomplishment that comes with being able to put down a book as finished rather than as abandoned. I wanted to like this book, but I just couldn’t get into it, and as a result it sucked up way too much of my time. Mostly because I tended to avoid reading it. And to say that I read it is a stretch. To say I skimmed the last half of the book is probably also a stretch. I don’t know what it was about it that I didn’t enjoy. Maybe it was that I didn’t find the attempts at suspense suspenseful. Maybe the mystery wasn’t very mysterious. I’ve disliked characters a lot more than I disliked this guy. Maybe I didn’t dislike him enough. I don’t think I found him emotionally engaging at all, like or dislike. And (I think I mentioned this last week) I found the dialogue mundane and pandering to the reader. Perhaps it was the translation. I don’t know. I’d wanted to be excited by the book about going to Barcelona next week. I am excited, but not because of the book. Alas.
Normally here is where I steal a running photo and insert some completely non-related quote from whatever I’ve been reading into the photo as a sort of mock motivational image, but I’m not going to this week. I did it last week, and I don’t think this book deserves two. And I’m feeling lazy.
Not too lazy, though, but perhaps a bit tired because this is one of the best weeks for running that I’ve had so far this year, including another half-marathon-plus at a decent pace that makes me think that the impending BMO on May 1 isn’t going to be so bad, though that’s still a bit away. But I’ve done two half-marathons now in the past couple weeks and if nothing else I have the mental side covered in that I’ve no doubt in my mind that I am going to be able to run it and finish it and maybe even finish in a decent time. We’ll see, since with this trip overseas looming I’ve a bit of a break from my running routine to get past, and then I have to get motivated to get back into it when I return. The head games that I play with myself seem to be my greatest obstacle.