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This week at The Paris Review, we’re tuning in to the Olympics and thinking about feats of athleticism. Read on for Haruki Murakami’s Art of Fiction interview, Ottessa Moshfegh’s short story “The Weirdos,” Gary Gildner’s poem “The Runner,” and Leanne Shapton and Charlotte Strick’s art portfolio “Swimming Lessons.”
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Haruki Murakami, The Art of Fiction No. 182
Issue no. 170 (Summer 2004)
How is your typical workday structured?
When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long—six months to a year—requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.
By Ottessa Moshfegh
Issue no. 206 (Fall 2013)
He had a theory about how to stay in shape. It was to tense your body vigorously during everyday activities. He walked around with buttocks clenched, arms rigid, neck and face turning red. When I first moved in, he ran up the stairs with my suitcase, then stared down at me as though I would applaud. And once, when he saw me glance at his arm, he said, “I’m basically an Olympic athlete. I just don’t like to compete.” He had a crudely drawn tattoo of a salivating dog on his shoulder. Underneath it was written, COMIN’ TO GETCHA!
By Gary Gildner
Issue no. 58 (Summer 1974)
Show the runner coming through the shadows,
show him falling into a speckled rhythm,
and then show the full expression of light,
there, where the trees quit and the road
goes on alone, marked by the moon-glazed gravel
Show the runner trying to disappear
where sky and road meet far in the distance,
show him always a step too late,
show a train going by hauling a long silence,
and show the runner leaving the road
where the killdeer starts from a charred stump …
By Leanne Shapton & Charlotte Strick
Issue no. 217 (Summer 2016)
When I was little, I would paint water as a low blue stripe along the bottom of the paper. Not much different from the sky—a high blue stripe across the top. Maybe a darker blue. Then I learned how to swim and the waterline moved up, over my head. It became the whole page.
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