By Jeff Giles
Updated August 01, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

Haruki Murakami is such a wild, imaginative novelist that some fans are going to think this earnest bit of autobiography is a buzzkill. I am one of them. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a meditation on running and the DNA it shares with writing. There are nice set pieces here, such as when, on an unimaginably hot day, the author runs alone from Athens to Marathon — and even the Greeks think he’s crazy. And there are insights into aging and how physical depletion can lead to creative depletion. But reading Murakami’s plainspoken prose without a surreal plot to whisk you along is disconcerting and dull. Never thought I’d say this about a Murakami book, but…walk, don’t run. B

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