Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One more before the New Years?

I wanted to finish off at least with 40 books finished (didn't manage to hit 50 like I wanted but ah well), so at the behest of my little sister, I picked up The Boy in the Striped Pajamas which I finished in a day while my family walked around La Jolla.

Dude.

I knew this book was about the Holocaust, but I wasn't really entirely sure what I was in for. It's a YA book and a pretty easy read, so I thought that it might be something touching and haunting, maybe similar to The Book Thief. Oi. Not so.

What I think strikes you first in this book is the fact that it conveys the tragedy of the Holocaust without ever needing to be explicit in its depiction of the horror. The story is told through the very naive eyes of a young, non-Jewish German boy who doesn't even understand what is going on. His fumbles and foibles as he makes friends with the Jewish boy on the other side of the camp are upsetting, ignorant, yet heartbreaking because you understand that this boy cannot possibly comprehend how the horrors the other boy are presenting to him can possibly be. Just as in a way, it is really difficult for us to imagine this actually occurred.

We get a lot of Holocaust stories in the Western world, and yet this one was so understated that it set it apart. It's such a quiet book that encapsulates a breaking of innocence. And then it ends quietly. Never hits the nail on the head. Never pushes morality down our throats. Never has us look at gas chambers or other horrors. It is what it is, starts quietly, ends quietly.

And so absolutely tragically in a way I did not at all expect it to.


Great, fast read. I want to see the movie, except I'm terrified because I know how this story ends and it breaks my heart.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rant rant rant

Not book related. And we all know that when it's not book-related, it's usually football related. And if any of you have been following this blog, you know I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan. And if any of you follow football, you know that the Dallas Cowboys not only choked on the most important game of the season, it's as if they didn't even show up to the game at all.

I got so drunk off my ass in response to their ridiculous game, that I was ready to throw something into the TV screen (alas, I was at a bar, so all I could do was shout). As my brother said in his drunken (celebratory, as he's a Giants fan) stupor, I dropped more f-bombs than Dallas made plays. Insulting, funny, but unfortunately true.

I passed out at my parents' hotel in La Jolla piss drunk and still in my jersey.

This morning I crept around town with a hoodie on despite the fact that it was too hot to be wearing a sweatshirt, too ashamed to even let my #9 jersey see the light of day.

Yes. I'm ashamed of my team. That was horrible. Horrible. It wasn't heartbreak. It was a freaking bloodbath. It wasn't like last year (losing to the Giants during the playoffs after a few bad plays and a crappy o-line performance). It wasn't like the year before (bobble snap, 'nuff said). It was like the Eagles were playing some freaking pee-wee Pop Warner team. It was like the Eagles were playing ME. ME! Tiny little Asian girl who apparently now gets drunk off of four beers! ME!!!

W.
T.
F.



Ugh, I am disgusted.
And I'm hanging up my jersey until next year.
As a true fan, I won't desert them. But come on guys! Throw me a freaking bone here! I'd almost rather be a freaking LIONS fan than this crap!! At least Lions fans held no illusions. Here you are, letting us all think you're a good team - no, a GREAT team - and you pull shit like this year after year! COME. ON.

UGH.


Now I begin my three week of football-free hiatus. I don't want to freaking hear about football until like... the Super Bowl. I may be over this loss by then.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ishiguro's a hard act to follow

I picked up Happy Family on a whim at a recent trip to Barnes with a coupon in hand. Despite the fact that I try my best to shy away from writing about Asian/Asian-American themes, I still like reading about them.

Happy Family is a story about a young immigrant woman from China who becomes a nanny for a little Chinese girl who is adopted by American parents. The woman is painted as detached from her environment, never quite fitting in, and always somehow looking for something tangible that connects her with others. This is illustrated by a penchant for stealing petty things from people's homes, touching their possessions, sleeping with inappropriate men, etc. A lonesomeness pervades. And yet she finds a connection with this little girl who she learns to love.

I thought this book was okay. The premise intrigued me, but for some reason, the execution failed to strike a chord in me as strongly as I would have liked. I think the problem may be that I found the protagonist a little bit too detached and therefore her flaws left me feeling unsympathetic for the most part. When at the end (spoiler) she chooses to kidnap the child, I only felt exasperation, even though I know I was supposed to feel at least some empathy for her situation. Any sympathy I felt for her was on an intellectual level, because I knew the author intended for me to feel sympathetic, but it never quite made it there. Instead, Hua came off to me as a bit bumbling, having made poor decisions, and lacking sense. I wanted very much to feel badly for her, but everytime she went around poking around in people's drawers and doing things she shouldn't be, I wanted to shake her and tell her THAT was the reason she didn't really have friends, not because of some otherness of being an immigrant. I never found her likable enough. In fact, I wondered what Jane (the mother) even saw in her enough to want to make her a nanny. I was unconvinced by that development, as I was by many of the relationships portrayed in here. Such as even the sleazy one night stand with that Evan character. Even that felt unbelievable to me.

On the other hand, it's not like this book is poorly written or even that the premise and plot is off. I found myself flipping through the pages easily and fast, but I just never found that I connected with the characters. They didn't resonate with me. Hua gave me some minor irritation, but that was about it.

Perhaps part of it is that after reading Ishiguro's book and recognizing the deliberateness of his use of first-person narrator, it's impossible not to notice how less effectively it is done here. Another bone I have to pick is that Hua "imagines" scenarios (especially towards the end, the lengthy description that shows what Jane and Richard must be going through, detail by detail as an imagined scene) too often and to a point where I felt it was simply a trick to delineate what happened outside of Hua's knowledge (ie: Jane and Richard freaking out) while still maintaining the first-person narrator. I was not much of a fan of that.

All in all, it was a fast read, and not a bad read, but not as resonating or affecting as I would have liked.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Denial, denial, denial... with a menacing twist.

I just finished A Pale View of Hills in pretty much two sittings. I must say, I never expected Ishiguro to be so.... sinister.

I have a lot to say about this book (with lots of spoilers), so bear with me.

The whole book has an incredibly eerie, haunted quality to it that put me on edge from the outset. You never feel comfortable or settled into this work. Knowing Ishiguro, I knew immediately that his narrator could not be trusted, especially given her reserved and often sparse description of events and memories. What interests me about Ishiguro as a writer is how masterful he is at maintaining a pitch perfect control over his narrators. Everything he does is deliberate. Throughout, Etsuko recalls events with a calm, restrained yet matter-of-fact demeanor. She does not reveal her emotions or dwell on them in any way. And yet, on the other hand, we get hints of her psychological distress when Ishiguro has her repeat, several times in her narrative, "There is nothing to be gained in going over such matters again." Like a mantra. A defense mechanism of denial. His deliberateness is masterful, and yet if you've read him before, you know nothing is at it appears.

I began to suspect that Sachiko was not who we are led to believe she is somewhere in the middle of the book. Etsuko is far too restrained in her depiction of them, and then given to random bursts of annoyance at Mariko for me to take everything at face value. Add on the many parallels in Sachiko and Etsuko's stories, and it clearly gave way to suspicion early on. By the time we reach the end, and Ishiguro is referring to Mariko as "the child" and Etsuko is saying "We can come back", I was not entirely surprised.

Because I know Moonie inquired once (and I just read her post on The Book Book) , my theories are similar to hers. I believe that Sachiko and Etsuko, at least in this narrative, are the same person. Perhaps Sachiko as a person with her daughter existed at one time during Etsuko's early life, but I would believe that they existed in a very different fashion. It seems to me that Etsuko has projected her actions and life onto Sachiko so that she can view the actions from a third party POV, and cope with them in this way, while all the while denying to herself that there is no reason to go over her own mistakes over and over again. We get hints that Sachiko is prone to the same mantra repetition in the fact that she'll keep saying outloud, "I'm not ashamed or embarassed by anything I've done." Another self-denial. Add in the one where she keeps repeating that she would do what's best for her daughter, and we have truly hit the nail on the head with Etsuko/Sachiko's penchant for denial in all aspects.

A few things I am still pondering - for instance the relationship with the father-in-law and her first husband are dealt with in detail, and serve to show the unending politeness and ritual that existed in her old life. I was interested the degree to which conflicts are dealt with in a sort of passive-aggressive way, with tensions simmering below a gracious veneer. Etsuko seems more comfortable with her father-in-law as she jokes with him, and yet I sense there is something more going on, hints of a life that came previously. As if she owed him to marry his son because he took her in. The relationship between the father-in-law and husband and the third-party Shigeo character is interesting too. I'm trying to grasp the significance of it, beyond just the demonstration of old vs. new and the ramifications of a war or the familial tension. I'm guessing there's something even deeper and more significant at hand here, but I'm not 100% sure of it.

The menace and sinister quality of this book actually took me aback. The scenes that are dropped without fanfare are alarming. Beyond the obvious suicide, you have the scene where Mariko is found hurt and bleeding (I thought she'd been raped at first, and I'm still not entirely convinced she wasn't - perhaps by the dirty "Frank" that she so vehemently despises), the child murders, the woman drowning her baby and then killing herself, the drowning of the kittens. All highly disturbing images that are not given additional inspection but merely described and left as is. Then there are the more subtle moments, like Mariko playing with spiders that she tries to eat, her asking Etsuko twice about things she is holding (a rope the first time, what was it the second time??), the tubby boy being kicked off the tree, Mariko whispering to her kittens in an unnerving voice. The entire thing is frightening and holds an undercurrent of something incredibly dark. I'm not even sure what to make of this - is it a manifestation of Etsuko's guilt at her hand at her daughter's eventual suicide that thus makes her memories of her past so dark? Unlike other posters, I never believed Etsuko actually killed anyone with her own hand, but it seems that she feels subconsciously that she is as good as having done so.

The other thing I wonder is if perhaps these memories of her chasing after Mariko are in fact the recurring dreams she is having, and not memories at all. Thus the strangeness of the scenes, and the dark menacing object, rope, whatever it is, that Mariko asks after. I don't even think these events are necessarily a fabrication of memory anymore, but perhaps are a remembrance of the dreams she is having. I didn't catch the reference to the fact that the girl in her dream wasn't on a swing but on something else until I read Moonie's comment on Book Book, but that seems to further convince me of this theory.

Also, I've thought about it, and I wonder if "the other woman" from across the river that Mariko refers to is in fact an Etsuko-like neighbor in Etsuko's story. As in, if Etsuko was Sachiko, then if she had a concerned neighbor who kept dropping by to take care of Mariko and had offered to take kittens or watch after her. Ie, role reversal, and Etsuko, due to her guilty mind, has decided to take on the role of that neighbor in her memory instead.

Random other things - who was that American woman? What were they talking about? Who was that other lady? Does she serve any purpose aside from showing Sachiko/Etsuko's fascination with foreign life?

And... what did Sachiko fight with her cousin about?? Was it more about the old?

Interestingly enough, while Etsuko maintains that Mrs. Fujiwara is happy and doing something with her life, Sachiko sees her as living below her means and being tied down after a leisurely life, with nothing to live for. And yet, while her life would be more comfortable if she lived with her uncle, I think she sees that living there would also doom her to a life that isn't what she desired, and she doesn't want to end up like Mrs. Fujiwara, trapped in a way.


Okay, chatting with Moonie now, and she believes Etsuko meant to kill Mariko/Keiko in the end with the rope to make it easier for her. I didn't get that when I read it, but now I'm wondering if thta might make sense... The menace is there, but I'm just not sure how literal it is. Moonie also believes that Etsuko might be the serial killer of the child murders. I'm not sure there's enough psychological craziness there for me to believe that, but it's an interesting concept, especially since we never find out more about the child murders.


I'm sure I'm leaving out many more crucial things I want to discuss, but this book is so rich and mysterious that I don't think I can get it all. All I can say is that Ishiguro is a freaking master at these psychological first-person narrator novels, and he does it in the perfect understated way. In this case, it serves to make me feel truly unsettled and unnerved. This book is deceivingly quiet, and yet so much lurks beneath the surface that I'm getting veritable shivers (and there is blinding San Diego sunlight streaming into my apartment as I type too) just thinking about it.

I think I need to read this book again to truly try to take this apart.

But really freaking awesome, and I highly recommend any Ishiguro fan to pick it up.


THOUGHTS???

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's long but worth it

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button made me cry.



Touching, affecting and extremely well-done.



I'm curious to read the story just to see. Though I hear it shares very little in common. In fact, The Confessions of Max Tivoli may be closer (which I read a few years ago and first thought this movie was based upon). But just for my own knowledge I suppose.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My favorite Kushiel...

First things first:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!
[and to those non-Xmas celebrators, a Happy Holidays!)




Anyway, I just finished up the second to last book in the Kushiel's series (there's one more out but it's in hardback, so waiting for it to be done). This one was my favorite BY FAR. Call me a hopeless romantic, but this one just had so many elements that totally drew me in. Star-crossed lovers, a doomed betrothal, a loyal dedicated wife, a tragedy, a quest for justice... Of all the Kushiel's books, Kushiel's Justice has been most enjoyable for me. Unlike the others, which I had felt were slow to get started and lagged in areas, this one moved fast. As always, Carey's good with her epic plots, this idea of a hero's journey and whatnot.

The other interesting about this one was how it played with their version of Christianity. Not sure if Carey was making a commentary on the way a faith can take many turns and can change to a point of unrecognizability, but definitely gave me pause.

Another point (spoiler) - when Imriel finally finds Berlik and kills him, I really enjoyed the exchange and thoughtfulness about redemption and finding peace for one's actions. I thought this was quite philosophical in some areas, bringing to mind questions of redemption, right, justice, forgiveness, humility. I half expected that Imriel would not go through with it and kill him. But that would have been a copout in a way. Not possible.

I think I enjoyed this one the most not just for the romance, but also because you truly see the journey that Imriel takes on as a person. How he goes from a self-absorbed person passionately in love, to someone who can also learn a quiet love, a love with humility, and then as he grows as he nearly fails in his quest for vengeance. How in the end, it's barely vengeance, but just justice, almost a gift. It was touching to me in many ways.

This means nothing to anyone who hasn't read this series, but ah well. Just wanted to share my thoughts.

Star-crossed lovers always get me though. Just glad that in the end it seems like they might be able to be together. Somehow. Love as thou wilt.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Okay so I know one of my resolutions for next year...

Man, I just read through the fiction section of NYTimes' list of notables for 2008, and I have not read a single one. Not one. At all!!! Last year I was decently on top of things but this year? NOT A SINGLE ONE!

Seriously, I really need to step it up next year. I was so woefully behind on everything. In the first part of the year because I was working on apps and then wrapping things up at work, and then I was off to Vietnam and then settling into a new city and then Beijing, and then it became all about adjusting to school. Yes, these are my justifications. Next year I will be better. I let this blog fall to the wayside, stopped following pub industry news and let a bunch of books slide past me! No! Boo! Unacceptable!


End rant directed at self.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Brick walls...

I read Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture pretty fast today. It's short, so you know, not an amazing feat. Of course, everyone has seen his lecture, so I was curious about the book. It's more of the same wisdom, a lot of the same stories he's already told. But man, I got to the end of the book and got really choked up. It's sad to know that he's already passed away. But it's amazing how somebody with such an optimistic view of life was able to touch a bunch of people so quickly.

I like what he keeps saying about brick walls, by the way. That they exist to show us how badly we want something. That's true. In the end, when I want something badly enough, I fight for it.


Don't have much to say about this, since it really is just sort of this inspirational little gift book. But if you have a couple of hours to kill, pick it up and read it. At the very least, you'll be amazed at the dreams this guy was able to fulfil in his short 42 years of life. At the very most, something he says resonates with you enough for you to keep in mind moving forward.

That's all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Random football post of the month

No, not book-related.

But if anyone cares, the Cowboys just pretty much blew their chances for making the playoffs this season. Another season, another stupid loss. Another year where we didn't quite make it despite the fact that on paper we should be a freaking championship team. Freaking A. Come on Boyfriends. Just because you know I'll never break up with you doesn't mean you should take my love for granted!

ARGH.

[edit] In an amazing twist of luck, we still have a shot into the playoffs... as long as we win next week's game. COME ON BOYS PLEASE DON'T FUCK THIS UP.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I love regression!

I just had the smallest little book accident while trying to buy some Christmas gifts for others online. I ended up buying four books for myself. OOPS.

In my defense, I haven't bought a book for myself in AGES. I haven't had a book accident in a really really long time. SO. THERE.



I had a book accident... and IT FEELS GLORIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is this cheating?

Also, by the way, I didn't get through all of Beckett's Three Novels. Does getting through just Molloy count towards my book count for the year??? Opinions?

[edit] Moonie says it counts. Then up it goes.

A book about characters.

Woohoo! First semester over and done with. One more to go and then we'll see where I end up. I'm leaning heavily towards heading back to good old NYC for a studio program, though to be honest, SD itself is growing on me, if not the damn program.

I pretty much have dropped the ball here on this blog.

Nonetheless, I wanted to make this random note about this book we were forced to read in one of my classes called Textermination. This is truly a bizarre book. I can barely describe it, but the short of it is a bunch of well-known (supposedly, since for an underread person like me, I didn't know 90% of these characters) characters from texts show up at some Hilton in San Fran to hear scholarly papers on them, so that they don't "die". I think I knew like, Emma Bovary and that was about it. But anyway, it's so meta and strange, I guess because the author is trying to say something about how books and characters survive in the consciousness of people as time goes by, etc etc. It's not a riveting read, though comical at points, and probably would be better if I knew more of the references it was making. But nonetheless, it's an interesting read for anyone who's read a lot. I use "interesting" loosely. As in it's a fascinating little commentary, and kinda fun if you know the references.

Just wanted to throw it out there. Not my pick of the year or anything.


Okay I swear I'm going to be better about updating this blog.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

More hating on Twilight the movie.

I'm sorry. I know there are some people who actually liked the Twilight movie. But since I've made it pretty clear that I thought it was the WORST MOVIE EVER, this link was possibly the FUNNIEST THING EVARRR for me.

To be honest, I actually enjoyed the books and found them entertaining (though I haven't finished the last one), but the movie was so atrocious that it has me second-guessing my like for the books back then. That's a bad thing for a movie to do!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Worst. Movie. Ever.

I went to see Twilight last night with a couple of friends. We had anticipated it highly, especially since both me and my girl friend thought Edward was dreamy. My guy friend also had read the book and had liked it, so we were all excited by the prospect of seeing it on screen.

Oh god. It was BAD.

I went in with low expectations because I'd heard it wasn't all that, but I figured that it'd be reasonably enjoyable, if campy.

It was so much worse than my expectations.

The first half of the movie was plagued with awkward moments and silences and bad conversation - thanks to a terrible screenplay and a bad acting job by Robert whats-his-face. It never gets better, and the last 20 minutes of the movie are somewhat bearable due to action. But beyond that, the movie is plagued with shortcomings in acting, makeup, special effects, screenwriting, editing, even poor musical choice. The whole thing feels very one note. My girl friend kept doing the face plant thing with her palm in her face, while my guy friend was sprawled out on his seat looking like he was being tortured. The best thing, as my friend said, about the movie was its topiary. Which was quite pretty. Everything else was AWFUL.

It's too bad. It could have been a great movie, but it seriously WAS NOT.

Do not waste your money on this movie. Really.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What KOLs can do

The publicist in me read the following NYTimes article about Obama's vague mention of some FDR book and the ensuing flurry, and laughed. Because, even though I never worked in book publicity, I definitely saw enough share of my mornings when a colleague or our media monitoring vendor would let us know excitedly, "Your product was mentioned on/by so-and-so!" And then we'd pull the clip and figure out exactly how we could use it to our advantage to push our product.

From the looks of this article, book publishers everywhere were doing it too. And Barack Obama is the KOL (key opinion leader) of the KOLs for these types of books. Just take a look at the NYTimes book list: There are at least 4 books (including a child's picture book) written by or about Obama (even if it's just an intro) on the bestsellers list. This country is excited by our president-elect, and they're about to gobble up ANYTHING he says.

I watched the referenced 60 Minutes interview last night by the way. Totally fell in love with Michelle and Barack together. I got that warm fuzzy feeling that I get when I watch Jon and Kate - is that weird? I so do love our soon-to-be First Family. They seem like genuinely goodhearted, warm people that I can relate to. People with intelligence and compassion and have a good sense of priority.

But anyway.

Read this article if you have time!


(And I have Audacity of Hope on CD for one of my long drives up to LA one of these days!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I am an abysmal failure at NaNo

Due to all sorts of circumstances, I have been pretty much unable to get myself to write anything except stupid blog entries. It's been 11 days since NaNo began and I've written nothing. I'm hoping my long Thanksgiving break will give me some time to write (that and the cold cold cold of NY always seems to help my muse along), but that's cutting it quite short. Reaching 50K words? Yeah, right.

I miss my writing dates with Moonie.


You'd think being in an MFA would mean writing 24/7, but it's not so. I seem to be paralyzed by everything else that's happening around me. What a failure. I don't even read anymore.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bc I love Moonie too

Okay, I'm sorry for being late in this lovefest.

Anyway. My lovenote is a little different than most, but thought I should say:

Ms. Rat,

Thank you for everything over the past couple of years.

For reading my terrible pages for class, for making edits on my submissions for MFA applications, for giving me advice, for taking me to your pub parties every now and again, for being a writing buddy.

Also, for letting me call you in tears at 7 am, for listening to my problems, for dangerous martini nights, for being a foodie buddy!

And for providing me with lots of procrastination fun when I used to work by being a chat buddy.

Most of all, for being a great friend.


Sorry I missed out on the festivities earlier today. Le sigh.

love you mucho,
Angelle

UH?

Is this true? I read on someone's Facebook status message that Michael Crichton died. No way!




And apologies to Moonie for having missed her anniversary. You know I love you.



Also: Obama!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

OKAY FINE.

All right, Moonie, you convinced me. I joined NaNoWriMo. The problem is, I already have an 11,000 headstart! Is that cheating?

I'll be highly impressed with myself if I can get to 50,000 in a month though.

Okay, how do I go about friending you people?

Monday, October 27, 2008

I guess I just wasn't ready for this book before.

I decided to pick up The Unbearable Lightness of Being again this weekend. The first time I read it was four years ago, fresh out of college. I liked it then, but I don't think I fully appreciated it.

I'm halfway through now, and I realize (to my chagrin) that in the past 5 years, I must have actually become "smarter" or something. Or maybe just more mature. Either way, I realize that the first time I read this book, I didn't fully appreciate or understand the text. A lot of it went over my head, or I just didn't take the time to fully process. Maybe because back then I was still fully engrossed only in books with plot rather than the slow books that Kundera writes, where you spend time digesting its existential content. Either way, I've been so busy flagging passages this time around (with little sticky flags, because I don't like writing in my books), that it's taking me longer to get through this time around. But I really enjoy it.

I wanted to get down some of these passages, but there's so many!

But here we go, to start:

Tomas did not realize at the time that metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.
--[pg. 11]


Tomas came to this conclusion: Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).
--[pg. 15]


Anyone who has failed to benefit from the Devil's gift of compassion (co-feeling) will condemn Tereza coldly for her deed, because privacy is sacred and drawers containing intimate correspondence are not to be opened. But because compassion was Tomas's fate (or curse), he felt that he himself had knelt before the open desk drawer, unable to tear his eyes from Sabina's letter. He understood Tereza, and not only was he incapable of being angry with her, he loved her all the more.
--[pg. 21]


If a mother was Sacrifice personified, then a daughter was Guilt, with no possibility of redress.
--[pg. 44]


But is not an event in fact more significant and noteworthy the greater the number of fortuities necessary to bring it about?

Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us. We read its message much as gypsies read the images made by coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup.
--[pg. 48-49]


The first betrayal is irreparable. It calls forth a chain reaction of further betrayals, each of which takes us farther and father away from the point of our original betrayal.
--[pg. 92]


"Why don't you ever use your strength on me?" she said.

"Because love means renouncing strength," said Franz softly.

Sabina realized two things: first, that Franz's words were noble and just; second, that they disqualified him from her love life.
--[pg. 112]



Happy Monday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Storytelling

Like I previously said, I've been reading The Hakawati in fits and starts, which is a problem for this book because it has so many characters and stories floating around that I get confused who is who and what's going on. But oh well.

This book is very much centered on storytelling - every section is an addition to some other tale, be it the storyline that's pushing us through the present, the story of how the grandfather came to be, memories of the narrator's childhood, an overarching myth of a slave named Fatima, or one of the many different stories within stories/myths/fables/fairytales that are told by one of the many hakawatis in the book. It's confusing at times, which can be off-putting, but because it's interesting enough, I forgive the author for the most part.

Anyway, I recently finished a chapter in which the grandfather, who is a known hakawati (or storyteller) is explaining his childhood, and how he studied legendary hakawatis before him for their techniques. He tells how two stories, told by two different hakawatis can be completely different.

And then he says:

"Do you know why I'm telling you this, Osama? It's because you should know that, no matter how good a story is, there is more at stake in the telling."
--[pg. 96, The Hakawati]


Rings so true, especially to a writer, right? I just finished taking a midterm where I babbled a little bit about why form is important, how form equals content, etc. And so this totally speaks to me. As writers, having a good story isn't enough. What makes a great book separate from a good book is in the telling. The technique. How we choose to craft it. Anyone can tell a story, but it's how that makes the story worth telling.

Just thought I'd bring that in.

For passage lovers

I forgot to mention this, but my friend Matt de la Pena (who I mention frequently), has a blog on his website... but it's not run by him, it's updated by his dad, who is a big lover of literature as well. And you know what's awesome about this blog? It's just a collection of quotes taken from books. I love browsing through the passages he's recorded, to see if any of it speaks to me. Sometimes, a good line alone will make me want to pick up a book I haven't yet read.

So check it out!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An actual book-related post.

Or, sort of.

NY Mag (whose blogs I still frequent despite being out here in sunny Cali) has been reporting that the on-screen version of my favoritest book EVER, The Road, has been pushed back to a 2009 release date, rather than playing in 08 as planned. Ah, well.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book being put on screen. I'm afraid what was a beautiful little parable (gruesome, yes, horrific, yes, but beautiful) will just become some freak post-apocalyptic horror movie, where instead of Will Smith and his dog, it becomes the dude with his son. McCarthy pulls off the book with that language of his, the simplicity and beauty of it. There's a tenacity in his writing that I love in this book.

I've mentioned before that the book, for me at least, uplifted me, gave me hope when I was feeling really low (I know, it's a depressing book, but I found it hopeful), and I'm afraid that a movie would offer no such hope. I think because what is wonderful about the book is how it speaks to you differently, depending on who you are, and you can take it from so many angles, and I worry that a poor interpretation of it would strip that away and make it more straightforward.

Coen bros did a good job of translating No Country For Old Men onto the big screen. I hope this guy does something similarly brilliant.

Though I do have to admit, watching people babyeating on screen is going to be a lot harder than reading it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Disappearing act.

WHAT THE FUCK?

I carry all my writing around on a USB flash drive (risky I know, but then again, a computer can crash too). I wrote at a cafe today, and everything was peachy. Just now I plugged it back in and went to the folder where all the novel chapers are kept (including the bits section, which is where I throw all my crap that I'm not using but may keep for later).... THE FOLDER IS EMPTY. Just that folder. The rest of the folders are fine. BUT THAT FOLDER IS COMPLETLY FREAKING EMPTY.

Luckily for me, I've emailed Chapters 1-5 to class so I have what I've written (believe me, I would be BROKEN DOWN AND CRYING if it were gone), but I'm astounded and bewildered, and frankly PISSED that I've lost my bits document and the other documents that were in there (older versions of chapters, etc). WHAT THE FUCK????

UGH!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

I cannot impress upon you...

...how much I hate my writing workshop.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Keeping options open.

After hemming and hawing and talking to my mom, I've decided to reapply to a few MFA programs. This DOES NOT mean I'm necessarily throwing in the towel, but I'm currently unsure if I chose the correct program for me, and I'm not loving what I'm doing, nor am I feeling particularly inspired or helped by what I'm doing. So, I finally decided the smartest thing for me to do would be to reapply to a few programs, so that come the end of the year, I can decide for myself if I am unhappy enough where I am to switch, or if things have looked up and I now want to stay.

Yeah. I don't know. I hate "giving up", so I'd rather avoid the situation if possible, but my mother made a good point in that a graduate degree in a creative field is a big deal - if I don't feel like I'm getting what I wanted out of the degree, then there really is no point in wasting my time. So I'm not going to make a choice now. But it's good to keep my options open.

Ugh, I just hate having to do more apps though.


As for the novel, I have 30 pages right now. I got over my last hump of writer's block. I am not writing as much as I should every day... it's been hard to get myself into the right mood, and I rarely leave my apartment if I don't have class or tutoring to do, and I miss my Starbucks in Union Square and my Hispanic bakery in Jersey. There's no place like that near here. But, I love writing this novel because I've imposed no borders on it, and it's like this work of exploration for me. I'm hoping to get a full draft out by end of next summer. But we'll see.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tragicomedy

Okay, done with Pnin. Dude, it's SAD! I just feel so so so terrible for the poor fellow! Nabokov is so good with his eccentric sympathetic characters. I mean the whole thing is sort of funny, but in that horribly sad sort of way. That last part where he's just finished having this party, and he's so happy, and then he finds out he's getting fired, and he almost breaks his prized bowl? :(!!! And then those mean people who are just imitating him! The worst thing is that you know that sometime during your life, there was that kid/guy/coworker/strange guy on bus who didn't fit in that you totally laughed at behind his back.... so you're that asshole! That strange dude was Pnin!! It's just awful and wonderful at the same time that Nabokov does this.

Craft note: Strange that the whole thing is told from an anonymous first person whose identity we don't learn of until the end. I feel like in present day, workshoppers would jump on the whole, "How can he possibly know all these details? Who is this narrator TALKING TO?" And yet here we go, Nabokov, a great, doing it. Which goes to show you, in creative writing, there aren't so much rules, as guidelines, and as long as you're awesome, you can get away with anything.

Good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nabokov is so good at eliciting empathy.

Reading Nabokov's Pnin for class. It's not as awesome as Lolita, and there are a few parts where I've fallen asleep reading, but it's still an entertaining read compared to some of the other crap I've had to read for class. The main character is just so... pathetic and sad. I don't know how Nabokov does it, but you just feel so terrible for this dude. Even while you're laughing at him a little (because it's sort of this very sad comedy, he's just so pathetic, you can't HELP but laugh a little), you just want to hug him, except you wouldn't because that would somehow make his pathetic self uncomfortable. I don't know. It's pretty good. First book I've read in class that I somewhat like.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We interupt this blog...

...to be very very sad that Tony Romo will be out for 4 weeks due to a pinky injury. Now my inconsistent Boyfriends will fall apart for the next four weeks. :( Sad...

[not to mention the other many many many injuries we have]

But I'll keep hoping for the best.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Music linky!

Okay I know my blog isn't a music blog, but I just wanted to publicize this:

http://www.myspace.com/worthstreet

It's my brother's music page he just set up. The first one is this weird electronica I'm not totally sure I love, but I'm pretty proud of him, and I really like some of his songs. He's got a talent in music, my little bro does. :) Everyone go check it out!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Humorous

I've been reading The Hakawati in fits and starts since I've got here. Making very slow progress. Anyway, the book is a story of a guy and his storytelling grandfather and current family juxtaposed with myth and folklore (since the whole book is heavy in the storytelling aspect). Anyway, I'm in the section of myth/folklore, about this woman Fatima who is on this journey, and she meets this jinni who cuts her hand off, so she decides to go get it back. And her companions ask her what the point is and try to dissuade her, and she says, "I want my left hand so I can wipe my butt."

Hahahahahaha. I mean, I don't know if it's meant to be funny since I know that in some cultures, that's just a fact of life, you wipe your butt with your left hand. But I mean, of all the reasons to miss your hand? Hahahahah.

Food makes many things better...

The lovely Cindy Pon took me out to lunch at one of those places she talks about on blog - Tea Station. That put a smile on my face. Thanks Cindy! Everyone be on the look out for her debut YA novel next year... I have a feeling it's going to be fantastic! =D

I wrote two pages today and decided they were crap. I think I shall use the ctrl-a-delete function.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Love

This book we're reading for class this week is weird, but it could grow on me.

Random lines:

"Everything we can't bear in this world, some day we find in one person, and love it all at once."
-[pg. 144, Nightwood]

"Matthew," she said, "have you ever loved someone and it became yourself?"

For a moment he did not answer. Taking up the decanter, he held it to the light.

"Robin can go anywhere, do anything," Nora continued, "because she forgets, and I nowhere because I remember."
-[pg. 161, Nightwood]

Monday, September 22, 2008

If you can't tell, I haven't been doing much reading for fun recently...

I wrote another 2500 words tonight once I got home from LA (I drove up to visit friends. Despite the fact that I actually don't really know how to drive). It's that beginning of a new project feeling. That consuming feeling. That fire being fueled. I feel like I could work on this straight and be done with a first draft in a couple months. I know this feeling won't last, but goddamn, it's a good feeling. It almost feels like a purge, and I feel like I can't write FAST enough. And I think I like this project about 10x better than my last attempt at a novel (which I am SHELVING, not scrapping). It feels more organic. I can be more... well, me.

The insomnia probably helps. I haven't slept before 5 am since... I can't even remember. I'm too anxious about everything in my life.

5500 words is only about 20 pages, and I wonder when I'll run out of steam, but it would be really nice if I could actually... you know. Finish this. Well, because you know, the sooner I finish, the sooner I can actually start revising it as my thesis project. Because let's be real here -- who is actually going to write their entire thesis in one semester??

Three years to write and polish this novel -- and then find it a home. I want to be on moonie's mischief roll too! =D

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Keeping things in perspective

I wrote 3000 words of my new project the other day, and that helped ease some of the anxiety I feel. I do have to keep things in perspective and remember that at the end of the day, I'm here for one reason and one reason only - I want to write.

I oscillate between starting to feel like I have a grip on things, and feeling like I've still made the worst decision to come out here. But I suppose it doesn't matter that much when I write. Writing makes loneliness go away, unsuredness, change. In my own world, I am comfortable; in discovering my characters, I have friends; in moving along plot, I have purpose.

Maybe that's the point. With three years of no social life, theoretically, you can get a lot of writing done.

I have three years to finish and polish a novel. That's the goal, right? Come out with a finished product to pedal to agents. See my name on a spine before I turn 35.

That's the plan. That's the perspective I keep having to have. This is what I came here for. Time. And time is what I need to make, time is what I need to have.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

SERIOUSLY freaking out...

I'm having a bit of a crisis right now.

I thought I felt a little bit better after meeting with my advisor, but I started to talk to my mom about the situation, and now I'm freaking out again.

I don't know if I made the right decision in coming out here.

I suppose I should have taken a bunch of warning signs when I got into the school, but I did really believe (and still believe) that I needed to come out West at any cost and experience life out here myself. So aside from the fact that I have yet to enjoy myself out here... (which I'm sure just comes with meeting people, etc)

My problem is that the classes I have to take for my program are mostly straight lit courses, with very few courses focused on looking at lit from a craft perspective. I'm not entirely certain if that's what other programs do, but it's what I expected. Now that I've realized that it's not this way, I'm wondering if I indeed should have just accepted New School's offer because it seems that THEY do have lit craft courses. And I'm wondering if I should try to transfer/reapply. I don't even know how that works - can I transfer from a 3 yr to a 2 yr? Will a place I rejected be likely to reaccept me? Should I just tough it out and see? (but deadlines happen soon!)

I don't know if I'm second guessing myself because I'm so miserable, but my mother made a good point - if I'm getting a graduate degree, I might as well make sure I'm getting out of it what I want and expected. If I'm not, then what's the point?

I seriously don't know what to do, and I'm about to kick myself for not having done my research more carefully. I was just so focused on wanting to come out here that it didn't seem to matter much at the time. Plus, I wanted a three year program, a more intimate program, and one that offered teaching experience. I really don't know what the right answer to this question is....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Goddamn, Kerouac.

Am I blasphemizing here (is that a word?)?

But seriously, Kerouac's writing is killing me. There's only so much of a super stream-of-consciousness, beat style you can take before you want to stab yourself in the eye.

My first impression (130 pages in) is that this novel is an example of a selfish piece of work. Clearly not written for an audience, but simply for the author. In which case, I wonder, what's the point of getting this published?

Am I missing something here? I know it's a great American novel and all (she says with sarcasm), and props to Kerouac because he's clearly not a stupid guy, but ARGHHHHH why? I suppose it's just a style thing, and his writing is just not my cup of tea. I guess it's better to be radical than boring. Better to make people hate you or love you than to remain indifferent.

But good god, I'm ripping my hair out, and I still have 270 pages left to read before my class on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Giving me a hint of the other side

I'm currently reading Visions of Cody for class. Kerouac isn't exactly the style I'm used to (this is my first) so it's taking me a bit of time to get through it. I'm only a couple pages in, and I'll admit, I was a little bit bored. But then came this AWESOME passage, and now I think I may have gained a bit more enthusiasm for it:

Well, masturbation. There's absolutely no sense whatever in lettin your pants down a la shittin and then, cause you're too lazy to get up, or make other shifts, simply milk the cow (with appropriate thoughts) and let the milk at its sweet keen pitch spurt downward, between thighs, when the urge at that moment is upward, onward, out, straining, to make everything come out as thought gathering it from all corners of the loins to purse it out the shivering push bone - No, with the thing flapping and milking below, not only that the seat cover restricting the natural quiverbow jump of the cock - at the great moment there is a sudden sorrow 'cause you can't push in, out, over, onward, at it - but just sit dumbly (like a man sits down to piss) oozing below for miserable hygiene and convenience's sake in an awkward woebegone, in fact castrated with legs-tangled-in-pants position and dumb shirt tails hanging a la shit - and barely missing the real draining kick and ending up having done nothing but clean out the loins as if you'd stuck a dry rag in there and pull-mopped our your life's desire.
-- [pg. 8, Visions of Cody, Jack Kerouac]


Why is this passage so freaking awesome? Because I'm not a dude, and yet I could completely get a clear understanding of this particular guy's version of male masturbation, down to the sort of sad, pathetic emotion of wanting something real, but instead you're just jerking off. I actually felt SAD when I read this, and wished the guy got laid instead of being stuck on a toilet bowl.

Dude, that passage ROCKS.

Dystopia...

Finished Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale in pretty much one sitting. Very easy read. It's good stuff. Very disturbing. I was impressed by how it was written, all the attention to details, how she draws out the reality of the world and gives us the rules and history without having to sit down and tell us too directly. It's also interesting because towards the end, the narrator starts talking directly to somebody, who, we don't know. And then at the end, to find that it's sort of meta, is reallly intriguing.

I was a little sad that we didn't get our happy ending, but I also wouldn't have expected it of her. It would have been too easy. If she'd been writing for another crowd, maybe we would have gotten what came after - the break, the run, a la The Giver. But we didn't. She stops just enough for us to consider, for a moment, that maybe this is where her tale ends. Then she throws us a bone with the historical notes thing.

I admire Atwood's writing style. It's clean, detailed, a precise and stoic voice with a hint of wistfulness. It makes something like this easy to read, bearable considering the disturbing nature of the dystopia.

I actually am not doing a very good job of saying what I liked about this book, but as we all know, I'm awfully unfocused these days. Suffice to say that I enjoyed this, and Atwood is fast becoming a reliable favorite of mine. (This is only the second of hers I've read.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blah from San Diego.

I was trying to decide if I should write about the readings I do for class in here... books rather. I decided against it. Though to put it towards my book count, I will put it on my side bar.

By the way, I am so very homesick for New York, it's not funny. My classmates seem to be 90% male (and I have yet to meet a first-year fiction MFA student who is female). I am on house arrest because I can't stand to drive more than what is required of me. The weather is okay, except it's a bit chilly at night. I'm bored out of my mind and miss home so much that I can't seem to get any writing done. I'm completely unmotivated, and I'm also freaked out and stressed out by the courseload and work schedule I've taken on. On top of that, I'm starting to question if I made the right decision to pick this school over New School in terms of program. In fact, I'm starting to question my decision to come here at all. And suddenly 3 years seems like a torturous amount of time.

I'm sure this will pass, I'll settle in, make a friend or two. It's just hard when everyone in my class is male, and there's little outside opportunity to get to know them, or other people for that matter. It's not college where you have all these ways to make friends. Besides the fact that many of these people already have outside lives.

I'm seriously second-guessing myself right now, and it's a pretty difficult place to be. I just want to go home to New York where being alone on a Thursday or Friday night didn't seem like such a bad thing, because I knew that at any moment I could call up a friend if I changed my mind. Now, even the time difference works against me.

Yeah, sucks. I don't know what I'm doing.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Where have I been?

Been absent for a variety of reasons. It's been a nonstop whirlwind for me, basically since I left for Vietnam. I just got back from a wedding in Hawaii and am now trying to settle into my schedule in San Diego. Hardly any time for anything.

I finished the third in the Kushiel's series. It was good. Carey is really great with these epic battle scenes, I'll tell you. I don't really have anything to say it beyond that, except that I'm glad my favorite character was saved.

I'm now trying to plow through a text for class for Wednesday, so I'm off to do that.


p.s. I'm so happy football season is here!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The danger of series.

I spent the past few days finishing off Kushiel's Chosen, the next book in the Kushiel's series. The problem with sci-fi/fantasy is that it's nearly always a series, which means that I'm always compelled to keep reading. And before you know it, you haven't read anything else except for every book in that series.

In any case, I just finished the second book in this trilogy (there's one more, which I started today and then the next three are a generation later). It wasn't as confusing as the first, since now I know the characters and politics and backstory, though I must confess that sometimes I still got a bit confused by the politics and had to reread. I felt the beginning was a little bit slower than the first book, but the second half was really good and satisfying.

There was also a lot less sex and violent sex at that, which I was sort of grateful for, even if it diminished who she is by nature, or rather, it wasn't as big of a plot element as it had been in the first book.

I liked it though, especially the twist and reveal of the plot.

There's not much more to say than that. I'm excited for the third book because they're FINALLY doing what I wanted them to do since the first book - go back for Hyacinthe, my very favorite character! Hooray!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A special break for the Olympics:

I am SO PROUD of the Chinese gymnastics teams - after how badly they messed up 4 years ago, it's so heartening to see them do well, competition after competition. Especially the men, how badly they wanted it and how badly they wanted to redeem themselves. Their talent and dedication is so amazing, and then the emotion that floods them when they win! Man.

Shoutout to my future boyfriend (hee hee!) Chen Yibing who won rings yesterday. I can't resist his boyish demeanor! I loved watching him drinking up his win and how overcome he was yesterday. Okay, he's a tad young for me, but whatever!


I'm not going to comment on American commentary on the Chinese athletes and gymnasts here. I just want to be content with the wins. :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

For the reluctant reader!

By the way, Mexican Whiteboy, a book by my friend and former teacher, Matt de la Pena, hit bookstores a couple of days ago. It's a YA book about two teenage boys in search of their fathers (who also happen to be great at stickball), one being, well, half-Mexican, half-white (like the author himself).

I think it's great that Matt writes books that cater to teenage boys - there's not nearly enough out there for them to read that they'd like to read, so especially if you know some reluctant teen boy readers, check it out. Even if not, check it out anyway. :)

I need to discuss the ending.

On the heels of finishing The Pact, my sister handed me Nineteen Minutes to read, which she said she liked better than The Pact. Being that I had nothing better to do, I read it.

It's fine, engaging. It's a Picoult work through and through - discussing tough issues, a trial, flashbacks, etc. Very similar to The Pact in construction, actually. It was interesting only to see how she would handle this situation of a trial for a kid who'd killed a bunch of other kids. Maybe because in the wake of Virginia Tech, I'd thought of the other side too - how his parents must feel, as well as an ounce of pity for the kid himself - what sort of life he'd led that had driven him to do something so horrific. I'd even toyed with the idea of writing something loosely based upon this, if only because part of me was drawn to the fact that he was the child of Asian immigrants.

But I digress. There were few surprises in Picoult's book - it's pretty much going in the direction you expect it to. Until the ending. (SPOILER!)


The whole thing with Josie and the huge revelation at the end that she'd been the one to shoot Matt Royston first seems to be the climax that Picoult uses to save her book from being predictable. And yet it seems almost a little too out there. Maybe she's writing to compare Peter's immediately obvious suffering to Josie's quieter, smaller one. To showcase the parallel between Peter's torment from the hands of bullies and Josie's abuse at the hand of her boyfriend. But I have to say that all the little clues that lead up to it and then the ultimate revelation, while satisfying in a strange way, also seem a bit... unrelated perhaps? It's a bit much, to have this girl be such a victim of abuse, and for it to come out to not just be Peter, but Josie too. I don't know. I can't put my exact finger on why this thread of story and the ultimate reveal didn't do it for me. Maybe because I felt that the focus of the story should have continued to be on Peter's struggle and redemption for Josie - sure, it's the predictable route, but seeing as the whole book was sort of predictable anyway, it might have been more gratifying. Or maybe I would have been okay with Josie killing Matt, if the clues dropped earlier came together better. The whole, "I hated myself for loving him" thing made it really hard to be sympathetic for her. If Picoult was going to go that route with her, maybe it should have been done more, or in a different way.

But all in all, it's an entertaining read. And a better rendition of the school shooting thing than Lionel Shriver's (which I really didn't like all that much).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

On a completely unrelated note

I am boycotting BBC.

This is why:

I am in Beijing for the Olympics. My family lives here right now, so we're all going to the Olympics. I am of Chinese descent, 3 of my grandparents were from the Shanghai area. One was from Taiwan. My parents were both born in Taiwan.

By no means am I pro-China, nor am I anti-China. To be honest, I tend to take a diplomatic view on things, and I feel that the things I don't understand, I can't make a judgement on.

What I do know is this-

The Olympics are a games of goodwill and peace. And as a Chinese person, I'm really proud of my people. Politics are one thing, but there's something to be said about wanting your culture and heritage to be shared with the world. I'm also really proud of how not only the Chinese government, but Chinese people across the world banded together in the wake of the Earthquake.

What pisses me off is how strongly scrutinized China is in preparation for the Olympics. And fine, I suppose that's to be expected, but the Western media is unforgivably biased. The other day, I literally heard this from the mouth of some dowdy BBC reporter: "So far, the athletes report that things seem to be organized and that nobody is experiencing severe discomfort yet." What?? Do they expect to be thrown in cages and flogged first? Then, "Well, I guess we'll see if Beijing can keep all of its promises." BBC is just waiting for the Chinese to f* up is it? I'm not like rah rah China or anything (and if I haven't said so before, I'm a total American patriot), but come on. I feel offended by the suggestion that everyone is just sitting around waiting for my people to f* up and/or act like total barbarians. It's POSSIBLE that Chinese people in China are NORMAL people who are proud of their country and excited about the Olympics. It's POSSIBLE that all they want to do is show the rest of the world what an amazing culture we have. It's POSSIBLE that they are doing what they can to try to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Why can't we all just bask in what the Olympics are supposed to be? Why does it ALWAYS have to be political, and why can't we just get along? Yeah, I get it, people have their opinions on the politics of China - so do I - but can't we just put that aside for the sake of the Olympic spirit?

I'm fully Westernized (though with globalization, you could argue that everyone these days is - to be "modern" pretty much means to be Western); I was born and raised in America. I love my country - I probably know more "American" songs than most people. I sing our anthem with gusto, I love my passport, I love going through customs and being told "Welcome home". I can't imagine making my life anywhere else. But I'm also Chinese. And when I watch Western media, I can't help but feel that this tremendous bias has part to do with "rights", but a lot also to do with a feeling of threat. That Chinese people are "other" - we're not white or European but something else. And China is getting too strong. And therefore, a carefully laid media plan of sensationalism is in place. I've worked with media for 4 years. I know how influential and targeted it is. It's not objective reporting, it rarely is.

I get upset because I believe there's two sides to every story. I believe that we in the West, especially in far removed America, only get to see what the media wants us to see. And that one side of the story is usually all anybody knows. I don't just mean this for China, but for many issues. We have a free media, sure, but is it really free? Doesn't it just mean somebody else is pulling the strings? Purse strings? What makes me upset are the people who venture forward to say that they have an opinion on Tibet or a free China, and I want to ask them how much they know about either issue. What have they read or heard? Where is it from? Tibet is poorly understood, as is the Chinese government. I have no solid opinion on either issue because I know I don't know enough about it. And I find it absolutely condescending when somebody who is NOT Chinese insists on a "free China" with a manic fervor - having never stepped into the Chinese borders, having known no Chinese people save for the ABCs in America. You are not them. You don't understand. You don't know. I don't either, but I don't presume to. It's condescending to assume that these people need YOUR freedom. How do you know that they feel and think the same way you do? How do you know they're not looking at YOU with pity?

Sorry. End rant. I have to go now for an appointment, but I'm getting angry because I feel a fierce protectiveness over my people and their pride.

Bye.

The Picoult of yesteryear.

I sat down and read Jodi Picoult's The Pact in one sitting yesterday.

I've owned that book for awhile, but hadn't felt compelled to read it. Why? I loved My Sister's Keeper, enough to put it on my top 10 when I finished. And I went ahead and read Mercy, Vanishing Acts and one of her others which is escaping me right now. Then I read Tenth Circle. And absolutely, completely loathed it. I felt it was poorly written, and simply a bad plot. It was god-awful, and I thought, well here it is. The evidence that she's sold out. She's churning out a book a year and she's starting to falter. And with distaste in my mouth, I stopped reading any of her books.

The Pact I bought because of a BN special deal. And then it sat on my bookshelf.

In any case, yesterday, I figured I'd give it a go. And I liked it.

It was the first book that put her on the scene, and reminded me of why I liked Picoult. Her ability to examine family and morality of difficult, contemporary issues. The faces of love. It was The Pact that seems to have set the stage for what she'd continue to do from thereon. In here, she takes a look at teen suicide and what happens when you love someone too much, are too dependent upon someone else.

All the different characters in the book are rendered convincingly, each of their perspectives unique, heartbreaking. A story that has no right answer, or happy ending. The book leaves you frightened for your children (or the children you may have one day, as in my case), and reminds you of your own confusing days as a teenager.

An easy read, in that it was easy to get through. A difficult read, if only because it's hard to imagine that this could really happen in real life, yet at the same time, so plausible, it's frightening.

Good.

Monday, August 4, 2008

More than whips and shackles.

Just finished Kushiel's Dart. I have to say, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. Granted, the writing is, you know, nothing to win a Pulitzer, a fair number of adverbs - "I said softly" "She answered coolly" "He laughed harshly" - but to be honest, I didn't even notice that until the end of the book. Throw enough plot at me, and I cease to care, apparently.

So entering the book, I seriously thought it was going to be some erotica fest, some excuse to whip some servants in a fantasy world. But it actually turned out to be a story of political intrigue with some epic battle scenes that recall LoTR Two Towers in my head (okay not nearly as awesome, but you know what I mean). If the whoring S&M twist disturbed me at first, it actually struck me as clever in the end, that the protagonist ultimately used her threshold for pain to save the kingdom. I found myself really drawn in by the time I got to the last third of the book, racing towards the climax of the book.

I did face some issues of discomfort - not in just the extreme examples of torture/S&M, but also in being able to accept a world and character in which a woman is so afflicted with the comingling of desire and pain that even while she is emotionally revolted by forced bedding, she still manages to physically be aroused by it. Partly I was offended as a woman. I tried to accept it as part of the fantasy world, but it was difficult at times.

Other issues I had with the book - for the first third to half of the book I was really confused by the many names and lineages of people in the book. I often found myself flipping to the cover to read who was who and who was related to whom how. Annoying thing is the characters aren't even grouped together as a family tree, but listed alphabetically under some loose groupings. Family tree would have made the process easier.

Also, by the end, after the climax (which I enjoyed), the denoument was one of those LoTR3 situations -- took freaking FOREVER. Yes, it was setting up for the sequel, but seriously, I get really impatient when I know I'm nearing the end of the book. I just want to GET TO IT, and it's annoying when you've reached the climax, and you still have 50 pages left to read. At that point I barely care. Just get me to the final resolution already!

Beyond all that though, I'd have to say I'm pleasantly surprised. I was fairly drawn in to the world and unraveling the political mystery and following the battles that ensued. It's impressive to me when someone can create a completely original world - complete with allegiances, people, customs, language, etc etc - because it's something I don't think I could do well and with authenticity.

Also, I got attached enough to the characters to actually shed tears when my favorite character had to sacrifice himself for the greater cause. I was fairly heartbroken about it, and had to write the friend who lent the book to me, to rant and weep and mourn.

So, that being said, my friend is bringing me the sequels when he comes to visit me. He says they're better. I hope so! Question now is, what should I read next? I have a couple of other books with me I could start on... or I could pick up Time Traveler's Wife to reread - read it 5 years ago, and picked it up again today out of idleness. It was one of my faves. Hmm, what to do?


BTW, I had a couple of ranty words about BBC that are completely unrelated to books, but I think I'll save it for another day.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This post is not erotica.

Because I want an excuse to blog, first I'll say something book related:

I'm reading Kushiel's Dart, lent to me by one of my best friends. He reads exclusively fantasy and sci-fi, and is the reason I ever picked up Ender's Game. On a recent July 4th trip, he was reading the 5th or 6th book in this series. All I can say is that I was reading over his shoulder, and caught the line, "She probed his anus gently with her finger" and for the rest of the trip, we were making fun of him for reading porn.

[I have just redirected all shady internet traffic to me. I apologize to the horny surfers who were hoping for more provocative reading material.]

In any case, this book seems to have a strong basis in sex and S&M from what I can gather from the back copy and the 40 pages I've read so far. No racy anal probing yet, but given the nature of the plot - a girl who finds pleasure in pain - I'm convinced I'm in for a racy ride.

Yeah, not my regular reading material. But, what the hell. If he liked it enough to read all six, I'm hoping there is some sort of interesting plot that makes it worth reading.... We'll see.




In the meanwhile, just wanted to update. I have found a place to live! I also now have a bed (or will soon, as it is being shipped on Monday)! Now I seriously just need to learn to get over my fear of driving so that I can test drive a car and take it for a spin...

Also! I am so effing excited for football season! I am seriously considering making my blog a book and football blog because I am so excited for it! Yeah, I'm a dork... But the Cowboys started training camp and I am SO SUPER EXCITED!

That's all for now. Tomorrow will be another day spent furniture shopping and trying to settle myself for school....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Subtlety.

Finished reading on the plane to SD today. Actually, I finished it while we were waiting on the runway for like an hour. I finished it, then went to sleep, just as we took off.

Really beautiful. There are some lines in the book that make my heart go quiet. It's not breathtaking or heartbreaking the way I find some books, but it's quiet in it's beauty. A whisper, if you will. I'm impressed with Ondaatje's ability to make an entire book about waiting in Italy (and the desert), interesting enough to follow to the end. Form over plot.

Something I did want to note, for myself, is how removed we are from the characters, and yet not. We get so much of them, in this dreamy abstraction, and yet, in moments of the greatest drama - when Kip runs from them, when Hana watches him leave, when the English Patient comes back to the Cave of Swimmers - the air around them goes quiet. The power of what is happening is accentuated by the subtleness of their reaction, the muted words, the lack of melodrama. Less is more, etc etc.

Something else: it occured to me, reading his book, that I'm not a writer the way he is. The A-type in me gets too caught up in organization and craft, etc. Meanwhile, here he is with this book that goes this way and that and confuses tenses and points of views and goes off on dreamy tangents. It works BEAUTIFULLY, and yet, I would never be able to put together something that way because my mind can't seem to work that way. It doesn't move liquidly the way his seems to. That sort of makes me sad, because those are my favorite books.

Next time I pick up something of his, I will be sure to only read it in quiet times, to fully be able to appreciate the beauty of his words.

Loved it.



p.s. I am in San Diego and apartment hunting really sucks.
p.p.s. Next book I have with me is a fantasy book given to me by a friend. Totally unlike anything I normally read but I have nothing else with me while in SD! Hee hee. We'll see how it is!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Planes and more planes

I've been so bad about blogging -- it's just been hectic and crazy here. Tomorrow I move out of New York to San Diego. Crazy, right?

Been getting through English Patient whenever I have some time. I started the book in Martha's Vineyard on the beach. I must say, I have no idea what happened in the first 1/4 of the book because it's totally not a beach read and I kept getting distracted. But now that I'm into it, I love it. It's beautiful and dreamy and sandy and wonderful. Sometimes, if I'm not careful, I read over entire paragraphs without really absorbing them, but when I go back and do, I'm usually rewarded. Usually, I'm an impatient reader, but with this book, I'm learning to reread and really take my time, because it's so worth it. There are some passages that just make me sigh with absolute contentment. Too many for me to even highlight.

Hoping to finish it tomorrow on the plane.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What was the point?

After finishing all my non-fic books that I'd brought, I started What I Loved.  The beginning sentences were captivating, and I was excited.  I hoped for a love story laced with intrigue.

Instead, this book was NOTHING about what I thought it would be about.  It started out sort of like a love story, and then a portrait of family and friendship, and then it turned into this story of parental nightmare of the worst possible kind.  Having a psycho liar for a child.  The book ended with no satisfying ending, and I was left wondering WHAT THE POINT WAS!  I literally closed the book and went "what the fuck".

Also, while all the art was interesting, I started to feel like the book was a little too pretentious for my tastes.  Too intellectual, artsy-fartsy for me.  No thanks.

So uh, yeah, that's that.

War sucks.

I have a fascination with Vietnam.  Not in the typical American "'Nam" kinda way.  But a fascination with the other side of things, the underlying side of things.  To most Americans, Vietnam is a war that is deconstructed over and over again, in movies and books and 60's music.  To me, Vietnam is a country, full of people and places who've suffered but have never given up and continue to move forward.  I love the country and the people, find them both beautiful and heartbreaking.  I went to Vietnam for 6 weeks and wish I had gone for longer.  I miss the children there, and wish there was more I could do to help.

So I picked up The Girl in the Picture.  It's the story about the girl in that famous picture from the war, the one where the little girl is running naked, straight towards the camera, screaming and crying.  Everyone who has seen the picture knows what I'm talking about.  It's a heartbreaking shot.

The book is heartbreaking too.  It follows that girl and her family, from before the napalm explosion, to her defection from Vietnam years later.  It paints a picture of what life was like in South Vietnam before the Communists took over, and the difference afterwards, how she was both used and loved by people in the party, her conversion from the Cao Dai faith to Christianity.  It's an amazing tale, written well, well-researched, moving and incredible.  I cried reading it at times.  And I simply cannot fathom what it must have been like to be her.

I read this book after going to the extremely biased War Remnants Museum (once upon a time called the American War Crimes Museum) and the Cuchi Tunnels (where you are forced to watch an anti-american propoganda video).  Now, I am a patriot, but that doesn't mean I don't see things from both sides.  After reading this book, all I can think is how war just SUCKS.  For everyone.  Life under Communism sucked for the South Vietnamese.  But Americans were the ones who mistakenly bombed their own target (and therefore caught the girl in napalm).  War just SUCKS.

I LOVED this book, and urge anyone who ever wanted to know anything about the Vietnam War to read it.   It's an amazing, moving account.  Really really wonderful.

Better than mama huhu (= so-so = horsehorse tigertiger).

Continuing on my non-fic route, I picked up Foreign Babes in Beijing next, given to me by Moonie.

For me, this read was really interesting right off the bat for three reasons: 1. My family currently lives in Beijing, in the "new China"  2. I am (well, used to be) in Public Relations.  3. I love my Chinese dramas.

DeWoskin's examination of a changing China's attitude towards Westerners and Westernization is interesting, especially in retrospect, seeing where China is now.  I think she gets insight into the whole thing that I'd miss as a Chinese person.  I found her writing to be intelligent, taking a sociological or anthropological view at times, while at the same time remaining funny and interesting.  Additionally, her deconstruction of Chinese phrases always really interested me, because as a Chinese speaker, I don't think about the phrases I'm saying, on how the separate characters mean one thing and put together mean something else.  To me, they mean what they mean.

My one criticism is that I got confused at the chronology at times.  There were these "intermission" sections that threw me off, and I couldn't tell how much time had elapsed, which made her story harder for me to follow, linearly.  But that's just a minor qualm.

All in all, smart and entertaining, if not mindblowing.

One man's fight to help change the world.

A good friend of mine gave me a copy of Three Cups of Tea, saying that it was now among her favorite books.  After The Killing Fields, I was in a non-fiction, world issues kind of mood, so it seemed like a good time to read the book.  Couple that with the fact that the book is about building schools in less fortunate places, and here I was, in Vietnam, teaching English and working in orphanages for less fortunate children, and it seemed perfect.

The story is really incredible, following one guy's dream and determination to build a school for a village he comes across in his failure to climb a mountain, to everything he has to go through to continue to build schools for similar villages across Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I admire his endurance, determination, bravery, and I also admire his family (wife's)'s ability to cope with his long absences and fears for his life.  The kind of difference he has made upon these people is incredible, and I find it so noble that he has devoted his life to this and continued to try so hard in the face of difficulty.  I don't think I would have had the resilience to do so.

Also, I think his belief, that we can fight terrorism through education, is so insightful.  Ignorance breeds hate, so his insistence upon providing balanced education is such a smart one.  

Definitely worth a read.  So inspirational.

Atrocity of war, part I.

I bought The Killing Fields while in Cambodia, along with The Girl in the Picture.  Figured I should read a little bit about the places I was in.  I'd seen the movie a long time ago (don't remember it at all) and I even had a friend who actually MET Dith Pran (without realizing it was him), but I didn't really know exactly what had gone on til I read this book.

The book is a novelization of sorts, written by pulling info from documents and interviews as well as based on the movie.  The writing itself isn't so great, but the story is so incredible that you forgive the bad writing.

It's just incredible to me that these events are REAL, that someone like Pran survived, and that what the Khmer Rouge did really happened.  It's really horrifying.  The book is incredibly worth reading, if only to learn more about the horror off the time of the Khmer Rouge and learn about the incredible man who still, to this day, works at the NYTimes.

Don't hate me, Matt!

Matt gave me an advanced copy of his upcoming book (hitting stores in August), Mexican Whiteboy, so I read it while I was in Vietnam (finished it after coming back from a smokey, loud, Vietnamese club blasting bad techno).

In my honest opinion, I didn't like it as much as I liked his first book, Ball Don't Lie.  There's a raw grittiness in his first book that I really liked, and a true love of his character, Sticky, that shines through in his first book.  Mexican Whiteboy I felt, while much better crafted, didn't have as much heart as his first book did.  Also, to me, it felt more like a true YA novel, while I felt BDL could be either.

That's not to say the book isn't good in itself.  It tackles the issue of straddling two races, and addresses one of the most important things in adolescence - acceptance - in a multitude of ways.  Acceptance from peers, in sport, among family, among racial groups, by parents.  For me, the most interesting parts where when Danny is at home with his Mexican family, and he never QUITE gets everything.  Is always sort of one foot out, and he struggles to keep up.  I liked that a lot.

I think, when I was finished, I felt like I'd only skimmed the surface of the story.  I wanted more, I wanted a more nitty gritty, a deeper dive.  And that's probably why I didn't like it as much as BDL.  But it's still good in its originality in tackling a bunch of different issues.  And the dual perspective was an added bonus.  I love multiple POVs.

Matt's going to hate me forever!

Another memoir.

I'd seen Glass Castle on the shelves of bookstores for awhile, and while I always had it on my list, there just always seemed to be other books that needed to come first.  Then the friend I was traveling with had it and had just finished it, so I read it.

It's an interesting, fast read.  Entertaining, honest and at times, heartwrenching.  It's nothing crazy or new, but it is interesting to read about this girl's life and how she managed to make something of herself against all odds.  As far as memoirs go, worth reading.  Anyone can get through it in a couple of days.

Good but not as good.

I was really excited by Yiddish Policemen's Union.  I really enjoyed Kavalier and Clay and I know Moonrat LOVED YPU, so I definitely dove into the book with enthusiasm.

I have to say, I didn't like it as much as I liked K&C.  Partly, I think that reading in fits & starts while traveling probably didn't help (I read half of it in a coffee shop in Siem Reap, 1/4 in a shitty guesthouse, and the rest on airplanes), but also, I liked the epic scope of K&C more, not to mention the heartbreak factor.  Nonetheless, YPU was still really great.

As always, Chabon's use of language is MESMERIZING.  At one point at the airport, I stopped and had to read a passage outloud to my friend, in the way he described one of the characters (the father of the dead kid, can't remember the name now).  I am constantly blown away by the inventiveness and freshness of his descriptions.

I also love Chabon's fascination with truly flawed characters (well, male characters), and their own fascination with each other within the context of his world.

The premise of this book is original and creative, an interesting mystery at the heart of it, while tackling some other bigger "issues".  I have to say though, I was dissatisfied with the ending.

I don't know.  Maybe my one reason for not loving this book as much is that while I was constantly entertained and captivated by Chabon's skills from an objective standpoint, I was never reeled in as much as I was for K&C.  I never cared about the characters as much as I did in K&C.  Still though, a really good book, and definitely worth reading.

Allende disappoints.

Okay let's start with Zorro.  [I'm probably going to zip through these fast, because I'm impatient and I also no longer have most of the books since I left them in Vietnam.]

I'd read Allende's short stories in class before, and liked her, so I was excited to read this book.  To tell you the truth, I was pretty disappointed by the book.  It wasn't ever BAD, it just was never that good.  Maybe part of it is that I never saw the Zorro movies, and only know the Zorro legend through hearsay.  So I wasn't that captivated by the tale she wove.  I mean, the writing is good, I just found myself going through the whole thing and not really caring all that much.  The villain never raised the stakes high enough for me, and the end point never seemed to matter that much.  I don't know.  When I finished it, I left the book at a guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the first book I'd ever left behind.  It just wasn't worth it to carry it all the way back to NY again.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back, but lazy.

I'm back!

I read so much while abroad that I owe this blog a bunch of book posts. Unfortunately, I'm so overwhelmed by my to-do list, that I don't feel up to it right now. So for now, I'm going to update my finished books list on the sidebar, which will have to suffice until I get to my reviews.

Btw, due to the place and situation I was in, I found myself reading a lot of non-fic, unable to immerse myself in fiction for some reason.

Anyway, if anyone is wondering, my trip was absolutely amazing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

MIA.

Sorry I've been so MIA. I'm actually in Vietnam, and will be until the end of June, and internet is shoddy at best. I've finished 4 books already while here though, so when I get back, I'll be sure to post some reviews.



I celebrated my 26th birthday in Halong Bay, Vietnam.



It also happened to be the same day that Cyn got her book deals apparently! So a belated congrats!



See you all in a few weeks.

Friday, May 9, 2008

BDL the movie.

Been sorta absent recently. Busy with getting everything ready and finishing work -- I'm leaving this city in about a week, so it's crazy.

Forgot to mention that I went to Tribeca Film Festival this past weekend and caught the last showing of Ball Don't Lie.

The movie was very well shot, and it was nice to see it brought to life on screen. There were some big names on screen, some tear inducing moments. Great cinematography. Awesome basketball scenes. Some scenes I just thought were pretty awesome.

The film stayed pretty true to the book, but to be honest, I felt that what worked in a book didn't translate nearly as well on to the screen. The movie began to lose momentum 3/4 of the way through. Also, a lot of the things I liked about the book - diving deep into all the characters and backstory - couldn't be captured on film due to time restraints. Flashbacks, which work well in the book due to chapter breaks, don't work as easily on screen because it can become confusing at times. It also made the story arc feel a little more awkward, stagnant in the present esp.

Nonetheless, I thought it was a job pretty well done. A lot of attention was paid to details, making sure things looked right, locations were picked. It gave a good representation of the world in which Sticky lives in and was artful in itself. I liked it. Congrats to all involved!! Must feel amazing.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My heart just broke into a million pieces.

I just finished The Book Thief and I can't stop crying.

Goddamn you, Zusak.

I mean, why, WHY, torment me with telling me the tragic ending before it's even over? To soften the blow? I don't know. But it still broke my heart, maybe even more, because I knew it was coming, and I couldn't bear it. How can a YA book end so unhappily? How can someone lose so much and yet continue to lose more?

Because it's war. Because this is what happens. Because this war in particular caused so many unhappy endings.


I liked this book a lot. I did find the prose gimmicky at times, but if you can get me bawling by the end, I'll forgive all your trespasses.

[I don't know if I can pass this book along to my 14 year old sister though. I don't know. My heart is breaking, and hers might just shatter into a million pieces.]

I liked that it took a new perspective on the war. That it showed how being a German in Nazi Germany could be like. Beyond the focuses we often see in other books, this brought something new and fresh. Not to mention, narrated by Death himself. Sometimes I found the metaphors too much, too vague, not things I could hold on to. But again, I ran with it. I don't mind the abstract. I liked the lyrical. And at times, this was indeed very lyrical.

I want to say more, but the ending just killed me. How incredibly heartbreaking. To have to say all you left unsaid for when it's too late. To witness the loss of everything dear to you.

By the way: "There would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness, too. That was writing." (pg. 525)

Also: I liked the theme of words. How words are simultaneously beautiful and dangerous. How they can be powerful weapons, or a tool of healing. The double-edged sword. Seduction and lies vs. truth and beauty. Because that's what we as writers constantly think of, no? Words are malleable and its power is in its wielder.

I don't know what else to say. I probably have thoughts on craft, etc, but it's all been swept from my mind because I'm so numb with sadness.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

YA vs. adult fiction: Is it all marketing?

I got bored with Savage Detectives so I took a break from it and began Book Thief.

I like it so far. The style of writing almost gets me. I say almost because it's sort of got that interesting, different narrative style, like History of Love or JSF type experimentation that usually gets me going. But not quite. There's something that doesn't click as well as when NK or JSF do their thing. But I still quite like it.

My other initial thought is, reading this, I wonder why this book got marketed as YA and other books with young protagonists (JSF's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for example) don't. This book clearly works as either, and I think is sophisticated enough in terms of subject matter to fit into adult fiction. But that's just my thought.

I love books though, so of course I like this book so far.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Reading Alert: Michael Chabon

This one was mostly for Moonie. But I already told her about it...

Michael Chabon (Yiddish Policeman's Union reading now that it's in paperback)
Union Sq. Barnes & Noble
Tuesday, May 6 - 7 PM

I may or may not attend (just bought the paperback!) but it IS Michael Chabon.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Oh. My. God.

Children's book explaining plastic surgery.

Really???

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Plus a guy named Luscious Skin.

I'm about 100 pages into Roberto Bolano's Savage Detectives right now. It's very... weird. At first I got a Murakami-ish feel to the narrator, now a little bit Henry Miller in its bohemian aimlessness and lust for word and sex. There's a lot of weird sex going on and stuff that's strange and over my head. Poets, man. I could never be one.

Well it's like 600+ pages, so I guess I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pen World Voices.

Some names I recognize (Rushdie, Eco, Eugenides, Ondaatje), many I don't.

Pen World Voices Festival. Anyone want to go?


I can't believe I'm leaving this literary city for the west coast for three years!

But I'll be back...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Political intrigue, etc.

I finished The Other Boleyn Girl on Saturday, and then went to see the movie several hours later, so this will be a two in one.

So, after about 100 pages, I got over Gregory's bad writing, settled into the plot and began to enjoy myself. You know, I have to remind myself not everything is grand literature. And I'm okay with that. It doesn't need to be.

Anyway, so I normally don't have an inherent interest in British history. But this book actually made me interested. The political intrigue is so fascinating, this idea that one man's obsession with a woman can create such upheaval and even change the face of the country forever. Despite its length, I ended up finding the book an easy read. Gregory clearly did her homework here which is impressive. I mean, from a craft point of view, there's nothing really all that impressive, except for the plot. The plot inherently is intriguing, and even though we all know how it ends, it's just interesting to see how things turn out, what happens to whom, why, etc.

So yeah. I liked it. I'm not embarrassed to admit it. And it actually makes me want to read up more about the Tudors (and maybe watch the show? Hahaha), which I think is one form of success. To get people interested in something they otherwise wouldn't have been.


The movie on the other hand. I thought that was just bad. But maybe because I felt everything too rushed and too condensed. I was also just so much more disturbed by the movie than I was by the book. The whole thing made me slightly upset and sick. And, the parts I liked best about the story, the political upheaval and policy changing -- all of that was lost. I think that's ultimately what makes the story interesting. How the seduction of a woman behind the shadows can change policy. But. I guess it was made for girls and thus heavily focused on the relationship drama (really disturbing). They also twisted all the stuff in the book around. It was a completely different reading of events than what was in the book. Disappointing, to say the least.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Short story collection straight to #1?

I still have yet to get through Jhumpa Lahiri's first short story collection, which is why I haven't even bothered with her second yet. But for reasons of my own, I'm glad to see her doing so well. A short story collection jumping directly to #1 on the bestseller list? Amazing.

I like this snippet that Paper Cuts has. I wouldn't want to read reviews either, though I fear I wouldn't be able to resist.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I am psychic, or just have good taste in books =D

Moonie is really on target today, seeing as my trolling of pub news has been slacking lately. I also just came back from an hour and a half of allergy testing hell. But anyway, she alerted me to this very important breaking news:

Junot Diaz and Oscar Wao won the Pulitzer!

I so totally called that from the very beginning. I'm very very happy. This is two years in a row that my faves have won the Pulitzer (if you remember, last year, it was The Road, which still remains my top favorite book).

Congrats to Junot.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bad writing = bestseller?

By the way, I started The Other Boleyn Girl shortly after. Within the first 20 pages, my first impression was, god this writing is cringe-worthy. (Esp after Chabon) Her use of adverbs gives JK Rowling a run for her money, and I often feel misplaced in her scenes. Plus, her monitoring of the first person usage is not very close at all. I would have ripped this apart in workshop for the number of times Mary says things that she oughtn't know or say in that way. But whatever. I suspect people love this book for the plot, not for it's incredible writing. Now about 100 pages in, I'm getting used to the writing and beginning to ignore it most of the time (though sometimes it's just unavoidable). I just hope the plot is worth 600+ pages of this god-awful writing.