So who’s the winner?

First Five

First Five

Before we examine the entries and announce the winner, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who sent greetings through WordPress, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and SMS. Now, let’s proceed to business.

We have three qualified entries. As I mentioned, only WordPress followers as of April 24, 2012 or previous commenters may join. Why this rule? I don’t feel comfortable giving away stuff to people I just talked to. Besides, don’t parents tell their kids not to take candies from strangers? So strangers, don’t take candies from me.

Let me remind you that the sole criterion for judging is the appeal that the entries have for me. Here we go!

Entry #1 is from Atty. Monique:

Oh Buddy, you sneak! Why didn’t you just tell me last weekend that today’s your birthday??? I hate you. Huhuhu.

But, okay, since it IS your special day, I will indulge you (and forget that you made me believe your birthday is April 31st, hrmmppppff). I just read your qualifications for contenders, and I think I am very much qualified, even if my blog’s not signed up with WordPress. :P

My favorite post from you? I have so many! Of course, I especially love your not-so-standard review about David Mitchell’s books. But the post that first came to mind when I read your giveaway guidelines was your Little Prince post.

http://bookrhapsody.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/what-was-the-little-prince-doing-on-earth-the-little-prince-by-antoine-de-saint-exupery/

This made me laugh out loud! :)

Your age? Hmm. I think you’re in your mid-twenties, same age bracket as Tina. Maybe 26? :D

All I wish to say I’ve already written on that little note I gave you, the one with the “small memories.” That being said, enjoy the day, my dear Buddy, and have a wonderful, lovely birthday! :)

Coincidentally, Contestant #1’s favorite post is also my most visited post so far. I also enjoyed that post about The Little Prince. Having nothing much to say about it, I just gathered some evidence that the Little Prince is gay.

26? Hmm, not a bad guess. That still counts as middle twenties, no? For her message, it’s a short and sweet thank-you note about our friendship. It’s been roughly a year, right?

***

Entry #2 is from Miss Jillian:

Happy birthday!! I think you are… 25? I most love your post declaring you are joining The Classics Club because I got to meet you and join your reader journey :) –

http://bookrhapsody.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/joining-the-classics-club/

And for #3: which is your favorite post on my blog? :P

(No worries if this entry doesn’t actually count. Mostly I’m just saying Happy Birthday.) :)

Contestant #2’s favorite post is one of the most painstaking posts that I did because I had to check and recheck my list of classics. It entails running a CTRL+F on my spreadsheet and cross-checking my book shelf. It was fun though, and because of The Classics Club, I have more drive to catch up on my classics.

25? Just like my birthday! And to answer her question, my favorite post on her blog is when she defended The Classics Club from the detractors. Defend might not be the right term, but what a passionate post! I loved how she put out her beliefs and convictions, defending both herself and the participants, and shortly, the little ruckus was resolved. I cannot find the exact post because I think one spawned after the other and it turned out to be a discussion of literary canons. I was not even able to post a comment; it was resolved that fast.

***

Entry #3 is from Nurse Tricia:

Happy birthday, Angus!

1. I don’t exactly have a favorite post because you reviewed books I’ve read or been meaning to read. It’s a lot, like Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (to-read), Lolita (still reading), and Oscar Wao (read). To be honest, the post I always watch out are your book hauls and finds. I know how much you and our book buddies in TFG hoard books from Booksale! IDK, you have good taste in book with literary-insert-prize (in which I only read a few). It’s fun to read posts how people like you find gems in secondhand bookstores. It feels like I did found a gem, too :)

2. Formidable Chairwoman, I’ve know for almost a year na but I still don’t have any idea how old you are. Can I base it with the hairstyles you had?
2.1. Long-hair – you look like a teenager with this hair. (I’m referring to the picture of you with the To Kill a Mockingbird book at Monique’s blog). You look 18 there. IDK how recent was that photo but you look 18.
2.2. Curly – girl, you have Young Neil Gaiman the hippie look, but that looks so hot. Hey, I’m not hitting on you. Anyway, I guess you are around early twenties (24?).

2.3. The Brush-up – IDK but it gives me an impression that you are Rochester. Or Malfoy. Not that you look old, but you look mature. Intelligent. Intimidating. Fierce. Ferocious? Maybe 26?

So my final answer is between 24 and 26. Haha! Dami kong sinabi.

3. Wish? Oh you know my wish for you :) no, not books (because you already have them). It’s MICHAEL FASSBENDER.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANGUS! EVEN IF I’M AWKWARD AROUND YOU, I LOVE YOU ;)

Contestant #3’s favorite posts are the book hauls. These often get a lot of hits, probably because there are more tags on them than the other posts. I hope there’s one particular post that was mentioned that we could refer, but she made mention of my posts on our common books (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Lolita, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao).

24-26? Another indecisive answer after the longish explanation, but still, it’s the middle twenties! Yes, I love changing hairstyles! I’d like to think that I almost tried most hairstyles, from long to short, from no hair to colored hair, from asymmetrical cuts to squeaky clean cuts, and yes, from straight to curly. And thanks for the wish, I’ll be waiting for a Fassbender android in the next few weeks!

***

Before we announce the winner, there’s a non-entry from Anonymous H:

Hey! Happy Birthday!! I’m not going to join the “contest” because I already have a copy of Remains of the Day…I just wanted to greet you hehehe. My birthday wish for you, is that you finish and understand Ulysses someday hahaha…just kidding :P

Thanks H, you could have joined because as I mentioned, if you already have The Remains of the Day, you could pick any Ishiguro book. Probably you just scanned the post as usual? Hahaha, yes, I will finish Ulysses, come hell or high water!

***

Okay, I’ve been delaying like one of those multi-sponsored award shows, so let us declare the winner. Atty. Monique, congratulations! If you have qualms on my judgment, let me explain that she’s been the most inquisitive bookish fellow regarding my birthday. She was asking for it everywhere that I just ignored them until that day when we met and I just had to give her a non-existing date, hahaha!

She also promoted the contest, making my birthday the busiest day in my blog. Hurrah! Talk about doing more than what is necessary, right? And here’s the message that she mentioned in her entry:

Small Memories, Short Notes, Big Thanks, Huge Love

Small Memories, Short Notes, Big Thanks, Huge Love

Buddy, please post the Ishiguro book that you wish to have and the book store of your choice for the gift certificate. To Jillian, Tricia, and H, thanks for the participation and the messages. This was fun, see you soon!

Malignant – Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

I bought my copy of this from a sidewalk vendor who was asked by someone, probably a distant aunt, to sell a stack of books. There’s something cool and bohemian in buying such stuff, so yes, even if it was exorbitantly priced despite the major crease at the back, I bought it.

I immediately attended to it. Hmm. Challenging. Not only did it assail me with a lot of French words and phrases, but there’s also the jumpy storytelling. If reading this book were a conversation, it would be like a chitchat with a horrible stranger who readily disposes all his dark secrets while you are stuck with him inside an elevator. He burps, he farts, and you have no choice but to bear with him. He just has this need to talk and talk without realizing that you no longer care.

But I did listen to the story up to the end. I am that tenacious. I was never the one to totally abandon a book that I’ve started. So let’s get into this.

At night when I look at Boris’ goatee lying on the pillow I get hysterical. O Tania, where now is that warm cunt of yours, those fat, heavy garters, those soft, bulging thighs? There is a bone in my prick six inches long. I will ream out every wrinkle in your cunt, Tania, big with seed. I will send you home to your Sylvester with an ache in your belly and your womb turned inside out. Your Sylvester! Yes, he knows how to build a fire, but I know how to inflame a cunt. I shoot hot bolts into you, Tania, I make your ovaries incandescent. Your Sylvester is a little jealous now? He feels something, does he? He feels the remnants of my big prick. I have set the shores a little wider, I have ironed out the wrinkles. After me you can take on stallions, bulls, rams, drakes, St. Bernards. You can stuff toads, bats, lizards up your rectum. You can shit arpeggios if you like, or string a zither across your navel. I am fucking you, Tania, so that you’ll stay fucked. And if you are afraid of being fucked publicly I will fuck you privately. I will tear off a few hairs from your cunt and paste them on Boris’ chin. I will bite into your clitoris and spit out two franc pieces….

So he thinks Tania is a jukebox? This paragraph is overdone, and there are lots of these on every other page. I don’t mind reading the word cunt or describing it. I don’t cringe at all. But to say it every one hundred words or so is irksome. I even set on a task to count the number of times this word is used, but I lost count. And yes, I am not in the mood to reread.

I’ve attempted to finish this three times and with each try, I restarted, allowing me to be familiar with that paragraph above. Still on that, I don’t ever remember the narrator, which is Henry Miller himself, and Tania fucking. But he did go out with French prostitutes: poor, old, young, crippled, name it, he did it.

The grand theme of this book is sex. So what about it? I think the book is saying that sex is sex, a mere human activity. There’s nothing much to it. The narrator insists this so bad that he developed this need to write things as they are. If he says cunt, he means that female body part, and not anything else that is derogatory.

The first few pages are interesting, and then a few more becomes sensationally shocking, and then what? The curiosity wears off because there seems to be nothing worth rooting for. The narrator lives in poverty. He is smelly and eternally hungry. With style, he begs for food from his acquaintances, and he can’t stop thinking of having sex with every woman he fancies. Truth is, he can always choose to be clean and fed by going back to America to his wife. Yes, he has a wife waiting, but never mind the adultery. Why does he choose to live that way?

He says that he wants to disassociate himself from humans. He wants to be inhuman. To be inhuman is to stand proud and fill your mouth with words to show off to other humans. If that is the way the narrator sees humanity, it must be quite dreadful, this hopelessness.

But he says he is happy. Really? He is happy despite the fact that his wife sends him money and is waiting, waiting? He is happy that he is living off the charity of his random people? He is happy that he is duping his friends? You, can you be happy that way?

1 star - didn't like itI cannot, that’s why I am so disgusted with this novel. But there are some good parts. There is this one long chapter where the word cunt never appeared. This must be the part where I lost track. And that chapter is good, where there is a lot of talk about life and miracles.

You see, if the narrator will just stop wagging his prick on the pages, he can manage to be really classy and eloquent. He can get rid of that bombastic language and just write. But at the beginning, he says that he is thankful that there is no more literature to write. And as it is his wont, he wants to be just that: crude and inhuman.

So here’s to you, Henry Miller. Just because this novel is semi-autobiographical doesn’t mean that it’s good. I know I’ve said this many times to others, but I always think of you when those words I spit with remarkable force.

I have six units in Art – My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

What's it like to be a color?

At the close and beginning of two seamless chapters in my so-called life, I find myself halfway through this book, which is, mostly, about art. Make that Art. I only have three units in Art back in college, and I feel like I have just enrolled in three more.

I am exaggerating because this is not purely about Art. Yes, there’s a lot of talk about Art here since this is about a group of artists commissioned by a Sultan to complete a certain Book of Festivities. But there’s also love, religion, sex, death, and uhm, style and signature, painting and time, memory and blindness, oh, those are facets of art.

So this book, the Book of Festivities, is gaining some notoriety due to its near blasphemous content. Let me say that the novel takes place in the 16th century Istanbul, so what was deemed blasphemous then might be sheer conservatism nowadays. But there is a point, I tell you. It’s very interesting, but I’d rather not talk about it.

Let’s talk instead of one of the challenges of the artists: painting Death.

After so much suffering, a calm overcame me. Death did not cause me the pain I’d feared; on the contrary, I relaxed, quickly realizing that my present situation was a permanent one, whereas the constraints I’d felt in life were only temporary. This was how it would be from now on, for century upon century, until the end of the universe. This neither upset nor gladdened me. Events I once endured briskly and sequentially were now spread over infinite space and existed simultaneously. As in one of those large double-leaf paintings wherein a witty miniaturist has painted a number of unrelated things in each corner–many things were happening all at once.

Did the author experience death for him to write that? Of course not. In painting and writing, one does not need to fully experience the event itself, in this case death. The feelings associated with it may suffice. I say suffice because I don’t think these could qualify as substitutes. But who will be there to paint or write if he has already experienced death?

No, this isn’t too thick about death, although the novel begins with a chapter entitled I Am A Corpse. It is a mystery, yes, but there’s also love in it. And a little drama among the participants of a ménage à trois.

Anyway, this is a real page-turner. I sometimes get a little disoriented with the changing narrators, immediately switching from scene to scene. But that is not such a hurdle. I don’t mind it all.

Thanks to my Buddy Atty. Monique for this copy! And thanks for all the greetings yesterday! If you are so inclined, below is my new age.

I hope not!

I hope not!

Date Started: April 23, 2012. 12:30 AM. Book #22 of 2012.

The Noble Nobel Project Banner

And today is…

My birthday! God’s nightgown! My age is now officially one notch higher than it was yesterday! Which isn’t so bad, so long as I don’t look like it. Please don’t react violently. Indulge me just even today.

Anyway, instead of asking for gifts, I am going to give away freebies. Yes, all you need to do is answer, in more or less than 500 words, the following questions (on the comments section):

1. What is your favorite post in this blog and why? Please include the link.

2. How old/young do you think I am?

3. Do you have any wish for me or anything that you’d like to say?

Qualified participants are WordPress followers of this blog. If you are not from WordPress, you must have made comments (meaning more than one) in the past on any of my posts. If you are going to follow just now or flood me with comments, it wouldn’t count. I think I have to restrict the participants to those readers who indulge me. So yes, thank you!

Oops, I almost forgot to say the prize. It is The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro! I picked this book because I will be moderating our book club’s book discussion of this on July. I’ve already read this, and all I can say is, magnificent! Five stars!

Or if you already have a copy of it (be honest), you may pick any Ishiguro book:

First Five

First Five

And of course, I am not forgetting this:

And the Sixth

And the Sixth

I will try my best to look for the exact edition displayed here. Also, yes there’s more, I will be giving away a Php 500.00 gift certificate from a book store of your choice! I’m feeling generous today despite the fact that I myself have not completed my Ishiguro collection. Anyway, for participants who are not from the Philippines, I am sorry, but you will have to settle with only the book in case you are declared the winner.

Contest runs only today! Comments after 12 midnight are no longer eligible. Comments will not be published until I have reviewed the entries. I will be announcing the winner on April 30, so please watch out!

Wait, how will the entries be judged? The participant with the most appealing answer will, of course, win. By the way, this is a scheduled post, and I might be wandering some place, or eating, or reading, or maybe still sleeping. Which means I won’t be able to entertain any questions today. Just leave your comments and I’ll get back to you.

Happy Birthday to me!

(Images from Knopf Doubleday)

April is the cruelest month

Small, Medium, Large

It’s surprising that I haven’t bought any books for the past couple of weeks at sale bins because I couldn’t find any books that I like. Cruel, no? I feel like something’s not right when this happens, so I took advantage of the summer sale at National Book Store. It’s almost the end of April, and had it not been for the discount, this would have been a bookless month.

  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Is it spelled with or without the letter Y? My edition is spelled without it, and why I am sticking with the Y? Never mind. I was really looking for Doctor Zhivago, but I couldn’t find one. And then I found this. Php 668.00, NBS – Greenbelt 1, April 13, 2012.
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres – This was given to me by Miss Veronica during the 2nd anniversary of our book club. I am not sure when the anniversary exactly is, but it’s mid-April. This time, we decided on April 15. I think I should write about that. Anyway, whenever Miss Veronica gives me books, I couldn’t say no. In fact, she was giving me three books, but I only took this one since I already have a copy of the other book (To Kill a Mockingbird) and one of the members asked for the other one (A Moveable Feast).
  • Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore – I almost bought this at Book Depository, and I’m glad I didn’t. I just got it for Php 59.50 at NBS – SM Mall of Asia last April 20, 2012. It’s one of the books in my Nobel Project, so I was really thrilled when I saw it.

I hope that soon enough, something will come up at Book Sale. I miss the thrill of finding nice books that I don’t own yet at their shelves.