Archive for the 'Books' Category

But how will you mark your place?

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Japanese horror story printed on toilet paper.

Suddenly The Internet Is Filled With People Reading Only The Articles

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Playboy Posts Unedited Back Issues Online, for Free.

The Passing Of James Oliver Rigney, Jr

Friday, September 21st, 2007

It’s funny how things lead up. I bumped into a former campmate from National Service just this week. He was in the bookshop looking for the latest Robert Jordan book, Knife of Dreams. It was funny because I was the one that introduced him to the series almost 10 years ago.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel Of Time series was a massive work that occupied my time from National Service to University to my latest job. I gave up the series for a while because he took a long time to write each book. Admittedly, each book was about 600-1000+ pages but with so many characters and subplots, all richly written, it was hard to keep track after one year of absence. So with every new book, it meant re-reading the past books to remember what went on before.

It got too much for me when you have to reread 7000 pages just to catch up to begin reading the latest book. I told myself that I will buy the entire series when he’s finished writing so that I can finish the series in one uninterrupted read. I really like the series, to me, it was a luxurious read, very much like viewing a complex 18-century tapestry or sampling a fine wine.

There is a saying, “man plans, God laughs”. James Oliver Rigney, Jr, also known as Robert Jordan passed away September 16, 2007 from complications from primary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy (cardiac amyloidosis). The last book, A Memory Of Light, is incomplete. Very much like my beloved Frank Herbert’s Dune series. And much like Frank Herbert, Robert Jordan made extensive notes and had told the complete story to his family.

I’ve made an order for the (in)complete set of The Wheel Of Time series. By the time I am finished with the current set, it is my hope that the last book will be published.

This blog will be busy during the holidays

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

with this.

Something Inspiring

Monday, October 16th, 2006

“If you trust in yourself … and believe in your dreams … and follow your star … you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.”
– Terry Prachett, The Wee Free Men.

Book Meme, sort of

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

From the flamous MrsBudak, looks fun. Also I have been asked this many times. Will do a more complete list some other time.

I am supposed to bold the books I have read, italicise the books I might read and cross out the books I probably won’t read:

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown – This is a good one, I especially loved the cliffhanging chapter-endings. You don’t get that in books anymore.

The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger


The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
– Many many times. I have all 5 books of his trilogy and his other works including the fabulous "Last Chance to See".

The Great Gatsby – F.Scott Fitzgerald

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter 6) – J.K. Rowling

Life of Pi – Yann Martel

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story – George Orwell

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller – This is a good one. Anyone doing NS in S’pore should read it.

The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien - I think this is the better book than LoTR. I love the cadence in which it was written.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon - Almost everyone I lent the book to cried. I didn’t as I did not find the kid that much different from a Computer Geek.

Lord of the Flies – William Golding – How can anyone miss this wonderful children’s romp into madness?

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

1984 – George Orwell – I did see the Apple Superbowl ad though…

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) – J.K. Rowling

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut

Angels and Demons – Dan Brown – This is the prequel to the more famous novel.

Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

Neuromancer – William Gibson – And all his other books. He is still the master.

Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson – Plenty of detailed descriptions and wordplay to cover the absence of a plot. Ghastly.

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess   – Saw the movie.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

American Gods – Neil Gaiman – This is a very good read. I have 3 copies, all worn out.

Ender’s Game (The Ender Saga) – Orson Scott Card – Good start, but the series wore a bit thin at the end.

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson

A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving – Read the more famous Garp book.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis – Tried, but the allegories wore me down.

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman – I found it very very good, but may be hard to understand for those who didn’t catch the 70’s horror movies.

Atonement – Ian McEwan

The Shadow Of The Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Dune – Frank Herbert – The one and only sci-fi masterpiece. His son’s later follow-ups are a disgrace to the vision and scope of the father.

V for Vendetta

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

V for Vendetta CoverThere are 6 books that have influenced me greatly. 4 of them are comics.

V for Vendetta is one of the comic books. The other three came out more or less the same time. Most comic affectionados would be able to guess the other three.

Anyway, V for V represents to me a naive yet chilling satire of the future. Naive, in the sense that Britain is the sole survivor of a war world with nuclear weapons.

Like Alan Moore, in his retrospective, I do not think that surviving a nuclear world war is possible.

V de VendettaIn any case, it opened my eyes to what I playfully (usually) call "creeping facism". Or what is known as "salami tactics".

Slice by slice, bit by bit, your freedom and rights are removed for "the good of the nation" and "for your protection".

But of course, not everyone is so "lucky" to receive such "protection". Or as Orwell noted, "Some animals are created more equal".

The sad fact noted in the book is that some of the people who strive very hard for the good of the people really do believe in what they do is for the good of the nation.

Such is the saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Such is the setting of the book.

Even though it was written in the 80’s, many parallels can be drawn from this book to present-day organizations, governments and other regimes, from the secret police, heavily-controlled media, planned economy etc. In fact, some people might condemn V for V as a justification for terrorism.

However, if that is done, then the point the book is trying to make is lost.

V making his pointUnfortunately, that point was made, in issue 5, or more appropriately, issue V. This is because, according to the comics bookshop, issue V was banned in Singapore.

Once you have read it (it’s freely available now at all good bookshops as a trade paperback, so grab it while you can), it is upsetting.

It is upsetting because the common everyday person wishes or dreams that somewhere hidden in a dark smoky room, there is a group of faceless men smoking cigars, drinking fine Cognac, conspiring and controlling the events and politics of our lives and everything "bad" like the increase of GST from 3 to 5% or alien slave markings on our left shoulders etc.

It is simply not true.

In what I consider to be the finest piece of satire in comics format (Alan Moore used the "Employee Review" as a vehicle), the blame is placed squarely on our shoulders.

Everything that has happened to us, we allowed it to be.

We have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Or the Wachowskis, if they dare to spoil a classic such as V for V.

Word

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006

This is just so funny.

Is it any wonder why I don’t read contemporary literature?

I actually heard, over the radio, some Singaporean DJ, Lin-something, raving over this piece of crap too. I tell you, sometimes we are need to believe in something so bad…

Or follow the bandwagon.

The cause of the decline of sex in the West

Monday, December 12th, 2005

Key Quote: "His was that her cunt
did not feel like Phyllis’s. Smoother, somehow simpler, its wetness
less thick, less of a sauce, more of a glaze. It was soon over." – John Updike.

The Uncensored Mouse

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

MouseIn the early 90’s, a comic book called The Uncensored Mouse was published. I managed to get a copy before it disappeared. Fears of lawsuits and whatnot stopped the comic shops here from getting the other issues.

It had a pretty cool cover, the famous oval and two circles outline in black silicon on a black background.

I think what we see on TV is more violent and insensitive now that what was in the comics, but it was worth a look. Especially now that the comics are becoming public domain bit by bit.

So here’s a blog that’s collecting the comic strips (among others). Enjoy Mickey Mouse at his most primitive and most Un-PC incarnation.

I know I did.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Monday, November 7th, 2005

NooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

How not to write a book review

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

This is more an exercise of name-dropping than a book review. The author clearly loves to show the extent of his ability to use a library card to borrow books to copy cliches from.

The parallels he draws are flimsy at best, ridiculous at worst. Brrr…

[Thanks to Le Learn.]

Attention Literature buffs

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005

Just when you think nobody writes gripping tales anymore.

Anansi Boys (has not) hit Singapore (Yet)

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

Anansi_1 Finally! It’s here. Gonna collect it tomorrow. Errm, I do not have a copy of the book and will patiently await the legal official launch date. Right. Move along now. Nothing illegal to read here.

Those who enjoyed American Gods will most probably like this one as it has the same premise but with more fun. Expect Wodehouse with witches (think Granny Weatherwax in Florida) in it.

I am halfway thr I can’t wait to get my hands on it when it is released on the official date of 19th September.

This is the second author that I like so much that I buy his books without hesitation.

,

Thud!

Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

Thud_1 Just finished the book. Only a master like Terry Prachett can weave violence in the middle east, racism, the da Vinci Code, murder, slapstick and a commentary on the current debate whether terrorism should be treated as a matter for police investigations or military involvement into a satire set in a pseudo-Medieval/Renaissance setting (which sounds suspiciously like London under the Romans), he makes his characters live in a world every bit as real as our own, even if it is being carried through space on the  back of four elephants and a giant turtle.

WheremahcowWhat is most dear to me in this book is that the protaganist rushes home keystone-cops style everyday at six to read (with appropriate animal noises) "Where’s My Cow?" to his son, Young Sam. Which I am pleased to say is also available as a companion book.

He is my most favourite author. For those who are going to get his books, avoid the American Harper-Collins’ editions, dese Amelicans, dey butcher the language.