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Showing posts from May, 2007

Peter Carey on Writing in New York.

In the New York Magazine, Peter Carey (author of Theft and My Life as a Fake ) writes how tough it is for a young aspiring writer to make it in New York: And here is what seems most insane—young and not-so-young writers take out student loans to get M.F.A.’s in creative writing. This does not add up. I once taught in the M.F.A. program at Columbia, and so I know the extraordinary gifts that student debt can confer. But the Marshian in me says it’s impossible to start a life committed to literary fiction when you are $60,000 in debt. The very size of the loan assumes there is a market, a business to go into, a living to make. But the hard truth is that only a sucker writes literature with the intention of making money. Emphasis mine. It's true of course. Why should anyone even think they can make money off of literature? Sure, some authors make it big *cough*Rowling*cough* but many others don't. Also in the article, Peter Carey writes that it seemed easier for him to create l

REVIEW: May 13 by Kua Kia Soong

So. May 13. What's all the fuss about huh? Noted social scientist, Dr. Kua Kia Soong, has written a book that sheds new light on the May 13 Incident , but since this book has already courted much controversy (no surprise really), you probably know about that. Using recently declassified documents from the British Public Records Office, Dr. Kua Kia Soong tries to convince us that the May 13 riots were part of a plot to oust Malaysia's first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman by a "Malay state capitalist class". The documents include not only observations and memos by the British Embassy but also dispatches from foreign journalists (most notably Robert Reece of the Far East Economic Review) as well as views from other foreign embassies. The quotes that fill this book paint a very convincing picture that there indeed was a planned coup de tat and that Tun Razak and his group of lackeys were the masterminds, the representatives of the so-called "state capitalist c

REVIEW: Confessions of an Old Boy by Kam Raslan

Kam Raslan's right. In the preface for his new book, Confessions of an Old Boy: The Dato' Hamid Adventures he writes that we've known Dato' Hamid all our lives. Seeing as my own dad is an old boy of MCKK, the people I get to meet when he drags me to an Old Boy function and the people he tells me of, reflect the characters found in Kam's book. It really does feel like I've known Dato' Hamid all my life. Dato' Hamid is a civil servant of the Tunku Abdul Rahman generation. He is the sort of person you rarely see nowadays, a fine example of the anachronistic Malay. This generation, groomed in the ways of the colonial British would be out of place not just in 21st century Malaysia, but in Britain too. And yet, Dato' Hamid, in all his snobbishness and patronising ways, is essentially a Malaysian. Without people like him, our country would probably never exist at all. At least not like we know it now. I'm glad that Kam Raslan decided to capture thi

Writers and Their Favourite Fonts.

Depending on the computer I use (I alternate between an iBook and a PC), I write my drafts in New York (the font, not the city) or in Georgia (ditto). Then, before printing, I reformat my manuscript to Courier 12pt so it looks "typewritten". I guess I'm in good company. Recently in Slate, they asked a selection of writers their favourite fonts . And Jonathan Lethem (writer of Fortress of Solitude ) says: "Before computers, I wrote three novels on a typewriter, and there can never be anything but 12-point Courier (double-spaced) forever..." It seems that Courier, and its sibling Courier New, remain the font of choice for writers, but other fonts get some loving too. Palatino, Times, Hoefler Text... all good fonts too, but not what I would use to compose my magnum opus.

Jim Henson's The Cube

I didn't know the creator of The Muppets was into surrealism! I found this movie via Boing Boing and I totally dig it. I feel like it caters directly to my interests in surrealism, existentialism and meta-fiction. There's even some interesting moments involving quantum physics (always a hoot when deployed properly :p). Spare an hour and enjoy!

Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

Last night, I don't know why, but I got the itch to play Civilization IV again. I dug out the disc and reinstalled it. Ah... listening to the opening and title themes is probably one of the best gaming moments... ever. It had been quite some time since I last played cIV (2 years!), so I was a little rusty with the game mechanics. I decided getting chummy with the tutorial session was in order. After the tutorial session is over, the game lets you continue playing in the map, which is pretty easy, since the only other civilisation apart from yours is India, led by peace-loving Gandhi. In this session, I, playing as the Romans with Julius Caesar, decided to spread my religion (Buddhism) and culture to Gandhi's cities. Gandhi swiftly embraced Judaism and I was not pleased. As my civilisation was advanced further up the tech tree than Gandhi's, I decided to do some arm-twisting. Embrace Buddhism. Or else. Gandhi, being the peace-loving hippy that he is, agreed. India gave

Nat King Cole's L.O.V.E

And now! Witness as I succumb to herd mentality and crass marketing while I post this Nat King Cole song AND its lyrics! L is for the way you look at me O is for the only one I see V is very, very extraordinary E is even more than anyone that you adore can Love is all that I can give to you Love is more than just a game for two Two in love can make it Take my heart and please dont break it Love was made for me and you L is for the way you look at me O is for the only one I see V is very, very extraordinary E is even more than anyone that you adore can Love is all that I can give to you Love is more than just a game for two Two in love can make it Take my heart and please don't break it Love was made for me and you Love was made for me and you Love was made for me and you Damn you Perodua ! Damn you and your Perodua Viva advertisements!

Whoopee!

Finally got my hands on the unproofed copy of Murakami's After Dark ! I have Kinokuniya and Sharon to thank. I'd read it immediately but I'm currently enjoying Kam Raslan's Confessions of an Old Boy , which I noticed yesterday managed to make it to Number 1 on the bestseller list at Kinokuniya. Good going!

At the KL International Book Fest '07.

I went to the KL International Book Fest on Saturday even though I hadn't really planned on going. The book fest hasn't really done anything for me for the past--I dunno--5 years or so. They're boring, crowded, and full of educational workbooks and textbooks. The book fest just doesn't give me any sense of enjoyment like the book warehouse sales of Times, Big Book Shop and Payless do. But there I was anyway, mingling with the crowd at PWTC. My friend had suggested we go to the fest after a wedding we had attended that day (congratulations, Colin!) and not having anything else to do, I agreed. Good thing I went. I finally got for myself two copies of Dewan Sastera , of which I haven't been able to find any issues since last year. I was interested in reading this month's science fiction-themed issue after reading Nisah Haron's post . I also bought two back-issues of i , an Islamic magazine (one about apostasy, the other about liberal Islam*), and one copy o

First After Dark Review.

The first review of Haruki Murakami's new book, After Dark is up at Cleveland.com : In Murakami's talented hands, "After Dark" emerges a tightly controlled narrative, carefully constructed in both time and place. Each chapter begins with a clock face indicating the precise time. Frequently, we find out specifically what music is playing in the background, providing a soundtrack to the proceedings. We stay alert to exact detail on each page, within every frame. The result is palpable and enthralling. I can't wait!

REVIEW: Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami.

UPDATE: My Wind/Pinball review can be found here . ISBN: n/a Publisher: n/a Paperback: 160 pages In Murakami fan circles, simply owning a copy of Pinball, 1973 is a mark of hardcore-ness. Like Hear the Wind Sing before it, Haruki Murakami does not allow English translations of Pinball, 1973 to be published outside of Japan. Back in the 80s, Alfred Birnbaum translated it into English and Kodansha published it as a novel for Japanese students who wanted to improve their English. While the English edition of Hear the Wind Sing continues to be reprinted and sold in Japan (and available for a moderate sum via eBay, see my review ), Kodansha stopped its reprint runs of the English edition of Pinball, 1973 and has now become a collector's item, fetching vast amounts of money on auction sites and reseller stores. Last time I checked, the cheapest copy went for USD$2500. Of course, Murakami addicts or the curious can always download a less than legal PDF of the book, painst

REVIEW: The List by Tara Ison

ISBN: 978-0-7432-9414-0 Publisher: Scribner (2007) Paperback: 272 pages When it comes to matters of the heart, there's always a story to tell. And when it comes to ambivalent relationships, the mysterious element that keeps bringing together two individuals who obviously weren't made for each other makes for an intriguing read. In The List , Tara Ison attempts to analyse such a relationship. The novel is about hearts, both literally and figuratively. Isabel is a promising medical student, just about to graduate and become a heart surgeon. While she deals with her life in a very practical way (as is befitting a med student), her on-and-off again boyfriend, Al, prefers to let life pass by with as little effort as possible. Al used to be a promising film director, and even made a movie that went on to achieve cult status. But then he loses confidence and ends up working as a clerk in a video rental store. In short, he becomes a slacker and somewhat of a loser. So with both of t