Month: February 2012

A zodiac symbol on Chapter 5

number1stupendous number2cherishable number3gripping number4aaargggh – Number9Dream by David Mitchell

So this is how I die, minutes after midnight on reclaimed land somewhere south of Tokyo bay. I sneeze, and the swelling in my right eye throbs and nearly ruptures. Sunday, 17th September. I cannot call my death unexpected. Not after the last twelve hours. Since Anju showed me what death was, I have glimpsed it waiting in trains, in elevators, on pharmacist’s shelves. Growing up, I saw it booming off the ocean rocks on Yakushima. Always at some distance. Now it has thrown off its disguise, as it does in nightmares. I am here, this is real. A waking nightmare from which I will never wake up. Splayed on my back, far from anyone who knows me, my life bar at zero. My body is racked and I am running a temperature as high as this bridge. The sky is spilling with stars, night flights and satellites. What a murky, gritty, pointless, unlikely, premature, snot-sprayed way to die it has been. One bad, sad gamble that was rigged from the beginning. Very nearly my …

The opening sentence for all three parts

Let’s itty and viddy if we could translate some nadsat slovos – A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

For the benefit of those who didn’t get this post’s title, it directly translates to “Let’s go and see if we could translate some teenage words. Nadsat talk is the language employed by the teen gangsters of A Clockwork Orange. Reading its first chapter is disorienting, because one is not yet used to this strange and funny language. One would be tempted to chuck the book back to the book shelf or consult Google to help him in understanding the text. But really, there’s no need to do that. One must not hurry through this book, and one needs to rely heavily on the context clues. After a couple of more chapters, one is set to become like real horrorshow in ponying and govoteering these nadsat slovos. The introduction of my edition says that most of these slovos are of Russian descent, but that does not matter to me because I don’t know Russian. It’s just a detail that’s nice to know, and one could get that feel because slovos like devotchka, yarblockos, chelloveck, moloko, …

Independent People by Halldór Laxness

Of sheep, lungworm, coffee, and poetry, and God, and a lot, lot more – Independent People by Halldór Laxness

For some time now, I’ve been itching to write something about this wonderful, funny, lyrical, all-encompassing book. And now that I have a few moments to devote on it, I realize that I cannot put into words my love for this. The only thing that I can do is to keep shoving this to people with whom I share the similar taste in books. But really, how can I justify the magnificence of this masterpiece if all I could tell them is that this book is all about sheep? It’s about farmers discussing and debating the different aspects of sheep farming while drinking coffee. It’s about them figuring out how to get rid of lungworm from the flock while discussing a little politics here and there. It’s about them worrying about the coming winter and hoping that their sheep will survive. And oh, it’s about the fierce battle of the unwavering independent spirits of a father and daughter. It’s a war waged between these two independent people. And I’d like to do a little background. Bjartur of …

The Little Prince's Earthly Adventures, 9

What was the Little Prince doing on Earth? – The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

01. Getting a tan at the deserts of Sahara. 02. Moonlighting at the deserts of Sahara. 03. Contemplating bouquets of roses. 04. Contemplating bouquets of wild flowers. 05. Contemplating fox fur. 06. Doing some charitable construction work. 07. Reenacting Humpty-Dumpty, for a cause. 08. Distinguishing the stars from each other, particularly that star where his rose is. 09. Flaunting his muffler. And tossing his golden curls. I think the Little Prince is gay. Seriously, I think all you need to read is the following to get the essence of the book: And he went back to meet the fox. “Goodbye,” he said. “Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” “What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember. “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” “It is the time …

A Couple of French Authors

Oh please, excuse my French

It’s a challenge to spell Houellebecq. It’s a challenge to pronounce it as well; the eleven letters only take up two syllables. And so is Gide. I always thought it sounds like “giddy,” but I recently found out that it has a silent e and the g is pronounced like a j. Sure, almost everyone loves French, reputed to be a lyrical and sweet language. But why all the excess of unpronounced letters, diacritical marks, and apostrophes? By the way, I’m not even sure if Michel is pronounced as “Michael” or “Mitchell” or “mee-KEL.” I just checked now, and I think it sounds like “Michelle.” Anyway, I got The Possibility of an Island last February 15, Php 50.00, at National Book Store – Glorietta 5. Jzhun pointed it to me; it was stuck between forgettable titles in one of the sale bins. What I was doing with this bookish friend is nothing close to romantic; we were scouting for French restaurants for our February book of the month, which is oh, written by a French …

The Six Stories of Goodbye, Columbus

More Tales of American Jews – Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

This is quite a break from my readings, but really, it’s not one that I would call a guilty pleasure. The only pleasure that I have from this book is that I can start anywhere. Not exactly anywhere; I mean I can choose any story to read without losing the essence of this collection of short stories. I started with the shortest story first. I was unaffected because I somehow did not get the feel of that story, You Can’t Tell a Man by the Song He Sings. Probably because it’s too short; I’m adjusting myself to short stories. The second shortest story, The Conversion of the Jews, is better. Here’s a snippet of the last few paragraphs: “Mamma, don’t you see-you shouldn’t hit me. He shouldn’t hit me. You shouldn’t hit me about God, Mamma. You should never hit anybody about God-” “Ozzie, please come down now.” “Promise me, promise me you’ll never hit anybody about God.” He had asked only his mother, but for some reason everyone kneeling in the street promised he …

Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald

Of boats and, what? – Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald

After almost a year of reading this, I am still confused whether to like this or not. You have to somehow give the author credit for the sparseness of the text. The book is like a pamphlet; one could use it to swat a hardheaded fly. One could even finish this in a couple of hours, if he is a fast reader. But after finishing, what? I remember telling one of my bookish friends that the novel ended in a strangely astonishing way. My reaction was, is that it? But I want more! The climax, which is at the last page, didn’t give us a chance to brood about what will happen to the characters. Everything is left up the air. If this novel were a portrait, it is an unfinished sketch. You see details here and there, the eyes, the nose, but there are a lot of jagged, blurred lines between each. Is that scraggly line a stray hair? Are those dots freckles or rashes? Not the perfect portrait if you are looking for …