Day: October 14, 2012

Some heavy classics.

Oops, I forgot the title

The Sunday Salon

I have a lot of things inside my head so forgive me for the yakking that would ensue from this point. It has been weeks since I last went to a book store, and here are what I got:

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (October 1) – I got this through the special order service of National Book Store (at Greenbelt 1), which isn’t serviceable enough due to the ridiculously high price that they charge. Good thing is that this edition isn’t that expensive. I got it for Php 455.00, and just a week later, one of my friends told me that he got his copy for Php 280.00 at another local book store. And that sucks because I first inquired at that book store (Fully Booked, that’s you). Oh well, but I’m really happy with it. I don’t know though if reading it on the bus will make me happy. Looks like this will help me build my lame biceps.
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens (October 13) – Some critics say that this is Dickens’s real masterpiece. Really, some say it’s this or that, so I don’t know who to believe. Anyway, I found a nice copy at Book Sale – SM Megamall (Php 145.00), which is an achievement because I rarely find anything good to buy at that branch in spite of the numerous books that they stack haphazardly. There was one time when three stacks fell all over because I pulled out one book, and this book isn’t even placed anywhere near the bottom.

* * * * *

Now, let’s go to what I’ve been reading this week:

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Currently on 338 of 428. The first and second parts are good. The last, ugh, I find it dragging. I don’t know why Austen chose to sidetrack the readers with Lydia’s affairs. Probably to give more insight on Mr Wickham’s character? But I don’t want to read about them! I want to read more about Elizabeth and Jane, the elder Bennett sisters that I find very admirable. I promised myself that I should finish this over the weekend, but life gets in the way. And life over the weekend is composed of going to the supermarket and housekeeping. Heck, I haven’t even finished the housekeeping because…
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Currently on … the cover. I am going to start reading right after finishing this post. So if you feel that my writing is a little hurried, you know why.

* * * * *

Now, for some literary news.

Last October 11, the new Nobel Literature Prize laureate was announced. It went to Mo Yan, a Chinese writer who has great international acclaim but, unfortunately, unknown to me until the announcement. So yes, I looked him up at my favorite site for writers’ bio (I don’t even know what’s the name of this site). A few days ago, there was no entry for the new winner, but worry no more, they have an update.

So I relayed the news to one of my bookish friends who says that he doesn’t care about the Nobel. But he is inconsistent, which is both funny and bothersome. He was the one who told me when the announcement will be, which doesn’t seem right for someone who doesn’t care about the Nobel. I’d like to believe that I was one of the first few people who read the announcement (I was all eyes on a couple of live blogs). I wanted to let him know the news just to see his reaction. We exchanged a few messages, and I’d like to put them up here (loosely translated by yours truly).

A: Mo Yan of China won!

J: Nobel is so trying to be cool. It’s always China! Hahaha! Let them have everything. I finished Anna Karenina, and despite the talking dog, I still gave it 5-stars.

A: You’re so bitter!

J: I’m like a heart that has been hurt a hundred times. But it still loves. I really am bitter now! Hahaha! Disgrace? The Immoralist? Lord of the Flies? Fuck.

A: Hey, you’re overacting! And I thought you have this I-don’t-care attitude?

J: Oh dear, I’ve only read one Saramago and I could already tell that he deserves the Nobel or any award. Blindness isn’t even his best work. I’ve read Marquez and Faulkner. They are both like that. But Gide and Coetzee? Blah. Why not Mitchell? His writing, for sure, is better than that Chinese writer. Tsk. If our plates were made of china, I would have smashed them all.

A: You haven’t even read Mo Yan. That’s a sign of bigotry. It’s not healthy.

J: I’m very sure about it. If I can get a copy of him for free, I’ll read it right away. And I can guarantee that I will repeat everything that I said, not only so that I can stand for them.

A: Fuck, are you in an acting workshop? I have already moved on!

J: Hahaha, there. I vented out all my bitterness. Now I can read. McCarthy first and then Lolita! I’m very much excited. I hope they’re also beautiful.

A: How could you act like a Nobel juror when you haven’t read Lolita yet?

A background: this friend is really hoping for Cormac McCarthy to win. I also like him, but I just don’t see him winning in the next few years. Maybe if he comes up with another novel as powerful as The Road or Blood Meridian with a grander scale, things could shape up for him. So after reading this conversation, do you think he cares?

Me? I care about the Nobel because, obviously, I have an ongoing Noble Nobel Project. I know I have been a lame champion of this, but what can I do? My life (supermarket and housekeeping) is demanding me to slow down my reading. But really, I care about it regardless of the project. I have so much respect for the Nobel laureates, and I feel that each winner truly deserves the award.

So this year, the winner is Chinese. I’m very happy! I don’t care what’s happening in China (or what’s happening with the Philippines’s relationship with China). I was rooting for any writer from Africa or Asia because there is a dearth of writers from these large parts of the world. I’ve counted only five Asian laureates (Israel and Turkey not included). There’s Tagore, Kawabata, Oe, Xingjian, and Yan. I can only recall one African laureate (Soyinka). So yes, this really is good news.

So how about you? Do you care about the Nobel?