Adventures in Reading

Nonfiction: Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, 2008

If you’re interested in running, or interested in writing, or interested in Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running* is “a kind of memoir centered on the act of running” that’s both an enjoyable and thoughtful read. Through this collection of essays and comprehensive journal entries, Murakami reflects on his start at running and novel writing, and how running has affected his life as a novelist.

I wouldn’t say What I Talk About… is one of Murakami’s most enlightening or brilliant works and it doesn’t have a mass appeal, but it does offer a curious insight into his life as an author. With the odd philosophical asides, this was a book I enjoyed and that inspired me to run (despite the cold!) and has re-interested me in reading more of Murakami’s works.

*A play on a Raymond Carver’s short story collection entitled What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.


Nonfiction: Shimmering Images by Lisa Dale Norton
September 27, 2008, 11:30 am
Filed under: book reviews, nonfiction | Tags: , , , , ,

“You’ve always wanted to write a story about your life. You’ve been planning to do it, telling family and friends you are going to do it…but you haven’t done it.

Why not?”

Lisa Dale Norton’s Shimmering Images is a barebones and simplistic instructive-guide to writing memoirs. Shimmering Images gets its title from one of her recommended exercises to help the budding memoirist, which is to use “…a memory that rises in your consciousness like a photograph pulsing with meaning…” All of the activities are based on the work Norton does within the workshops she teaches across the country on writing.

I have no interest in writing a memoir at this time as I’m in my mid-20s and seriously not much has happened that many people would care to read. However, even for the non-memoirist Shimmering Images lends some good advice when it comes to brainstorming and structure. In straightforward instructions with limited detail, Norton provides a great guideline for writing. Though it warns away from more daring approaches to memoir writing, it seems like a good place to start from.

Conclusion: Bookmooching.

Other opinions: J. Kaye’s Book Blog.

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Nancy Drew and The Secret of the Old Clock (Part 1)

It seems I am one of the few girls who never touched Nancy Drew. Though I admit, the “somewhat” dated book even seems a bit old for my generation. Recently I began work on another story and towards the beginning I made a remark about the main character doing some snooping. I wanted a colorful reference and it only took me a day and a half before I thought: “Hey! Why not Nancy Drew?”

Unfortunately, I knew nothing at all about this series of books. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I know that there was recently a movie/TV show about her, an updated series of books is available, and it was insanely popular this last Christmas. The other bit of information I gleaned from a grandmother purchasing the book for her granddaughter and it went something about how the mother (the grandmother’s daughter) didn’t like Nancy and thought it rather antiquated.

So today at work I glanced at the first page of Nancy Drew and The Secret of the Old Clock all in the name of research for a short story living on my hard drive and I can confidently say it knocked my socks off and I didn’t finish page one before I had to put it down from laughter:

NANCY DREW, an attractive girl of eighteen, was driving home along a country road in her new, dark-blue convertible. She had just delivered some legal papers for her father.

‘It was sweet of Dad to give me this car for my birthday,’ she thought. ‘And it’s fun to help him in his work.’

Her father, Carson Drew, a well-known lawyer in their home town of River Heights, frequently discussed puzzling aspects of cases with his blond, blue-eyed daughter.

Smiling, Nancy said to herself, ‘Dad depends on my intuition’ (1).

First, the book is terribly dated and I’m turning every page in anticipation of finding a character named Bunny or Dirk. Nancy is the too perfect wealthy, Aryan daughter and I’m thankful she at least does not refer to her father as daddy. And finally, the mention of “intuition” was the capstone. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe that people can have intuitive moments but unfortunately most of the time (and I find this particularly true when describing women) what is meant is “capability” or “astuteness” or “intelligence.”

For better or worse I cannot put Nancy down and my initial remark in my story has become a bit more snarky than it originally was intended.