Scholars date the word ‘pedestrian‘ to the early 18th century, its origin from the French pédestre or Latin pedester (going on foot). But it was also used to mean ‘written in prose’.
The 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded a few days ago. You might remember last year’s winner, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. A controversial pick, his
quirky long-delayed response annoyed academy members. (It was rumored that he used SparkNotes to write his lecture. Really?)
Every year I hope the academy chooses perennial contender Haruki Murakami. (Alas, this year, one of Murakami’s favorite writers, Kazuo Ishiguro, took home the prize.) Murakami was born in the same month and year as I was but that’s where the similarities end, even though he thinks of himself as an ordinary guy.
I see myself as a kind of ordinary guy. I don’t think of myself as an artist, mostly. I guess I’m just engineering something. I like to write. I like to choose the right word, I like to write the right sentence. It’s just like gardening or something. You put the seed into the soil at the right time, in the right place.
His prose is intricately fashioned, whether fiction, non-fiction, or a personal essay. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a collection of gems. It’s by turns memoir and diary, a laceratingly beautiful (and educational) narrative. Murakami writes the stories we all need to get through life, confront the past, understand the present, and move on to the future.
Unresolved mysteries, tales-within-tales, maybe-dreams, everyday worlds, and supernatural realms ~ in Murakami’s hands, his stories fascinate and confound. An accomplished writer and translator, he knows how to tell a tale circuitously. He is the kind of professor I yearned for in college, learned and challenging in equal measure.
Haruki Murakami poses questions and tenders ideas you will think about, and then think again. Exactly what Alfred Nobel had in mind.
And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. And you may not even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about.”