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Showing posts from December, 2006

The Last Entry...

...for 2006! Since I have no internet at home (I'll get to paying the bill, one day), today will be the last post for the year. What has 2006 meant for me? 2006 was to me, the Year of Writing. This year, for the first time in my life, I took my writing very seriously. For the past 5 years or so, my New Year's resolutions had always included one where I resolved to write The Novel. Though I have yet to fulfil that promise, I have at least made huge strides in my writing. This year, I wrote 9 short stories, submitted 6 of them to 11 publications, and have had 2 of them accepted for publication (one of them is included in a book being launched tomorrow ). Compare that to the previous years... all I had written were some story outlines for the games company I work for... and that's it. They were pretty lame outlines too, come to think of it. I joined a writing class, which gave me the confidence to actually keep writing (thanks, Sharon !) and I started a blog about books

11-Year-Old Girl Reads 2,200 Books.

There's a cute story in Utusan Malaysia today regarding a certain young girl who has read (drum-roll please) TWO THOUSAND BOOKS! ZOMGWTF!!! For your convenience, I have run the article through a babelfish (not Altavista's Babelfish , but the actual fish you stick in your ear ) and this is what was translated: by ABDUL RAZAK DIN IPOH 21 Dec. - Although only 11 years old, Afiqah Ramatullah Khan, has read 2,200 books including novels that are her faithful companions every day. A Standard 5 student from Sekolah Kebangsaan Raja Perempuan Ipoh, she said that the titles of the books she read had been noted down since she was in Standard 1 and this means that the true total of books read by her would be more. It is routine for her to finish reading one or two books daily, each approximately 70-100 pages long. According to her, this total does not include light reading, such as religious books, newspapers, magazines or comics for children. Among books that she likes are story b

Mohammed Naseehu Ali.

By way of the Underrated Writers of 2006 project at Syntax of Things , I have discovered a wonderful writer which I would like to expose you to. Mohammed Naseehu Ali , a Ghana-born writer living in Brooklyn, writes stories that are full of wit and allegorical complexities, yet are simple to read. The language he employs makes his prose a delight to read and the characters he deploys are a strange oxymoronic combination of unreal and normalcy. Zongo Street, a fictional small African community where his stories usually take place, are described in detail and are steeped in African culture and religion, evoking the smells, the sounds and even the dust, resulting in deeply immersive stories that are rich with atmosphere and humanness. For a taste of what he's capable of, I suggest reading his short stories, " Mallam Sile " in the New Yorker, and " The Manhood Test ", in Gathering of the Tribes. " Mallam Sile " is a story about a tea stall owner who suffers

The Gremlins Return!

I can't believe it! Of the many children's books Roald Dahl has written, only the rare Gremlins remain as the only one I have unread. So when I was reading my feeds for today, it was with surprised delight when I read this in The Guardian : ...the Gremlins Project, has led to a release of the original text by the publishers Dark Horse, and a full marketing campaign is planned for 2007. A series of collectable toys based on the characters have been promised, while the text of an early limited edition with Disney illustrations is available on the internet. Oh Dark Horse! My saviours! I shall purchase your wonderful digitally restored and reissued hardcover book once I find it in stores. For those wondering what the fuss is all about (or you're too damned cheap to buy it yourself), maybe you would like to check out the complete text of The Gremlins at Roald Dahl Fans.com .

Time's Top 10 Asian Books of 2006.

Oracle bones, Bollywood gangsters and Chersonese culinary delights grace Time Asia Magazine's 10 Best Asian Books of 2006 list . Apart from the Murakami and the Vikram Chandra, I haven't heard of any of these books before. Props to Time Mag for highlighting them.

Science Reveals Shakespeare's Works Excites Brain!

From Physorg.com : Professor Neil Roberts, from the University's Magnetic Resonance and Image Analysis Research Centre, (MARIARC), explains: "The effect on the brain is a bit like a magic trick; we know what the trick means but not how it happened. Instead of being confused by this in a negative sense, the brain is positively excited. The brain signature is relatively uneventful when we understand the meaning of a word but when the word changes the grammar of the whole sentence, brain readings suddenly peak. The brain is then forced to retrace its thinking process in order to understand what it is supposed to make of this unusual word." There you go! Your brain goes all orgasmic when the Bard spouts something indecipherable! Science has proven it!

Murakami Round-up.

Haruki Murakami's been in the news a lot lately. He's got a new translation of Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby out in Japan apparently so maybe that's why he's getting all the attention lately. The Japanese daily, Yomiuri Shimbun, interviewed him recently , and Murakami claimed that his encounter with The Great Gatsby was "fate": It's really difficult to explain in words, but it's easier to understand when you think about it as an encounter between two people rather than an encounter between a person and a novel. We meet a lot of people in our lives, and there are fateful encounters among them. Such encounters can sometimes change your life completely. Such encounters can often open up new doors and close others. You sometimes feel your whole being has completely changed from how it was beforehand. My encounter with The Great Gatsby was of that nature. Also in the Yomiuri Shimbun, but a few days back, is an article about a symposium held in Japan disc

A Book Will Never Let You Down.

What's that about e-books? Nah, I'll keep my reliable paper ones, thanks. (Also, they should've installed Firefox in that book.) Via Scaryideas .

Over-rated and Under-rated Books of 2006.

Those "best-of" book lists that are popping up on all the book review sites and blogs? Forget 'em. Take a look at Prospect Magazine's Over-rated and Under-rated Books of the Year instead. What's the most over-rated? My current read: Dick Dawkins's God Delusion . No surprise there. Nice quotes abound: Suzanne Franks writer & broadcaster Snow , Orhan Pamuk (Faber). One should not say this when he has just won the Nobel prize and survived state harassment, but I found it tedious. Alan Wolfe academic The God Delusion . Written with so little tolerance and so much fervour that fundamentalists will recognise Dawkins as one of their own.

Writers Write Loud!

So I get to have a story published in 2006 after all! Hooray! Karen-Ann Theseira and Oak Publications will be launching their short story collection, Write Out Loud , a very nifty book featuring short stories by up-and-coming young writers like Alexandra Wong , John Ling , Yvonne Foong , me (me! me! me!) and many other equally talented people * . Come join us and support the local writing scene: Date : Saturday, 30 Dec 06 Venue : Popular Bookstore, Ikano Time : 3-4 pm Write Out Loud will retail at RM29.90. *Full List of Writers: Charmaine Hon, John Ling, Low Mei Heng, Tan Phaik Cheng, Richard Huang, Melvin Tan, Tan Yi Liang, Janarthani Arumugam, Koi Kye Lee, Kelvin Ooi, Kwan Su Li, Selvam P. G., Ashvini, Graeme S. Houston, Yvonne Foong, Agnes Ong, Ted Mahsun, Frederick Kovilpillai, Wong Boon Ken, Joanna Van, Lynette Quah, Vanitha Krishnan, Alexandra Wong, Tracey Jan Francis, Jolin Kwok, Kwan Su Li, Noreha Yussof Day, Zachary Lee Francis, Bob Teoh, and last, but not least, M. Khairu

The Payless Warehouse Sale.... again.

Didn't think I'd go this time as I'm not really in the best state of finances right now... but I must've been trapped in their tractor beam and they managed to rope me in anyhow. I managed to escape by the skin of my teeth with these: 1. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes I've been eying this for ages at Borders. 2. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson Recommended by a friend a couple years back. Feel slightly guilty it took me this long to actually get the book. How long more will it take for me to read it? 3. Louisiana Power & Light by John Dufresne Passed the first-page test. Looks like it could be an enjoyable read. 4. Maybe the Moon by Armistead Maupin From the writer of the Tales from the City series. 5. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer OMGWTFBBQ! I've been looking for this for yoinks! (Big Sherlock Holmes fan here!) 6. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver I hope I haven't already bought this. 7. We Were the

One Honking Big Book Launch.

So yesterday I went to Lydia Teh's launching of her latest book , Honk! If You're Malaysian . This probably ranks as the grandest book launch I've ever attended. Even that Roald Dahl launch for Rhyme Stew I went to when I was a kid couldn't beat this. Congratulations, Lydia, for being able to launch your book with much fanfare. I should also state here that the book is a really wonderful read, just like her previous collection, Life's Like That . Having already had a chance to read it in public, I can now tag it "Laugh-out-loud-funny". It also certainly benefits from having Hassan Bahri's illustrations accompanying the text. The illustrated cover he did for the book is one of the best covers I've seen on a locally published book. (One that comes close that I can think of right now is Cinta Ubi dan Laksa , a Malay young adult novel-comic hybrid). Having Adibah Amin write the intro is a huge plus too... though I thought it was a little insubstantial

What Kind of Reader Am I?

What Kind of Reader Are You? Your Result: Dedicated Reader You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more. Literate Good Citizen Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm Book Snob Fad Reader Non-Reader What Kind of Reader Are You? Create Your Own Quiz

Attack of the Limericist.

You want poetry?!? I'll give you poetry , you hacks * !!! Whenever you pet a cat, Please make sure you're not a rat, Please do be advised, That it is unwise, For a rat to pet a cat. There once was a man from Peru, Who didn't have a thing to do, He picked up a phone, Which had no dial-tone, And made a call to Kathmandu. There once was a man with a daughter, Who wanted to marry an author, Her father refused, Because of the news, That the man knew only one letter. There once was a girl with a Volkswagen, Who wanted to drive to Copenhagen, But once she got there She found it quite blehh , And drove home again with her Volkswagen. There once was a girl called Daisy, Who hated the sky when hazy, She vacuumed the air, With her mighty derriere, That wonderful girl called Daisy. There was a young man in Peking, Who declared himself to be king, He made himself a crown, Which kept falling down, That silly young man from Peking. Mwahahaha!!! * I kid, I kid... you're all nice

This Side Up.

Daphne Lee has a review of Adibah Amin's new (and long-awaited) novel in yesterday's Starmag and gives it a hearty thumbs up. She seems to be a little confused over the title though, first calling it This Side of the Rainbow , then later calling it This End of the Rainbow , which I assume to be the correct title since that's what's printed on the picture of the book's cover. Ms. Lee's concluding thoughts: Anyone who is familiar with Adibah’s writing through her column As I Was Passing can expect the same fresh, simple and direct style here. This book is an easy read, and it is also eye-opening, especially if you are not familiar with Malaysia’s pre-independence days and the social unrest of the 1950s. Anyone seen this in bookstores? I was in the Local Books section in MPH MidValley on Saturday but I didn't notice it anywhere. And pity about the cover... it looks like it was designed by a high-schooler with a pirated copy of Photoshop. Further reading: D

Inspiring Yvonne.

I was in MidValley yesterday afternoon to watch a certain local superhero movie (don't watch it unless you want your IQ to drop to a single digit) and while I was browsing through MPH an announcement came over the P.A. system. Yvonne Foong was to give a talk to promote her book, I'm Not Sick Just a Bit Unwell - Life with Neurofibramatosis . Hey, that's lucky, I thought. I had meant to get her book and this opportunity would allow me to get it and have it signed, as well as to give her my support. I read her blog off and on so it was great to also be able to meet her in person. Though it was hard to understand her at first (her condition, as I understand it, severely affects her jaw as well as her hearing), the crowd quickly warmed up to her as she talked about her experiences battling Neurofibramatosis as well as her struggle to write a book and get it published. If you haven't bought the book yet, I highly suggest you do, as it is a very good read (although I adm

My 2007 Book Rereading List.

Wow! They finally upgraded my Blogger account to the new Beta version! Yay! Since some of us are posting up our "to-be-read" 2007 list , I'm gonna go the other way round and post what I will be reading again next year. The following list is not in any particular order: 1. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell Not as influential to me as it was when I was in Form 4, but still relevant. After all, as Malaysians, aren't we all under the gazing eye of Big Brother ? 2. Animal Farm by George Orwell For years I couldn't find this book in bookstores (ah... the days before Kinokuniya KLCC), until my second year in university. I made friends with a guy from the studying management and he was complaining about this "boring" book he had to study for his English class. When I found out it was Animal Farm, I asked if I could borrow the book. He said I could have it and he didn't want to see the damn book ever in his life. He must really hate socialism. 3. V

Writers Should Embrace Failure.

In the month of November, I received 2 rejection letters and another came in the mail yesterday. Not that this is disheartening. Not at all! Rejection's part and parcel of writing. I'll get there one day. Fellow writers facing rejection might find solace in Ha Jin 's words from an interview published in AGNI Magazine : The more ambitious you are, the stronger the sense of failure, because there are so many great books that have been written. When I was at Emory University I often taught a story by Kafka: “The Hunger Artist.” That story explains the psychology of a writer. Very often we write not because we want to achieve—maybe there was that desire, but so much has been accomplished. We can’t do anything better. On the other hand, you have to go on and continue. That’s why I think some sense of failure is essential to a writer from the very beginning. So there you go. Keep on writing, y'all.

REVIEW: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Lydia's threatening to put me on the dead blog list if I don't update. Fortunately though there's my review in Starmag yesterday to blog of. (I can't say much of the title they went with though...) Here it is: The Thirteenth Tale Author: Diane Setterfield Publisher: Atria Books Paperback: 416 pages ISBN: 1-4165-3726-0 If you apply the acid-test of reading a first page of a novel and seeing whether it pulls you into the story and makes you want to keep on reading to Diane Setterfield's debut novel, I am in no doubt it will pass. The Thirteenth Tale starts simple: Margaret Lea, plain, bookish and reclusive, receives a letter at her father's bookshop. The letter is by none other than world-renown Vida Winter, claimed to be "England's best writer; our century's Dickens; the world's most famous living author". Not only does Ms. Winter creates stories when she writes her acclaimed novels, she spins a different story every time someone inte