Saturday, October 21, 2006

Peter Pan

I have this version of Peter Pan:

Oops, took the image off Amazon and it has the "Search Inside" link on it.

I don't remember the story much but after Hatena Diary's many posts on Peter Pan, fairies and fairy tales, I think I may read it again...

And then there were some...

It had to happen. In my slapdash, pick-em-all-up, buy-it-for-its-cover way of stocking my growing library, I have bought and am still buying books that I just cannot get through after more than a few chapters.

One of those genres is the translated book. I've always held to the believe that translated books somehow lose something in the translation or that whatever language it was written in probably reads better than the English. That's why it is difficult for me to sit through Murakami and not constantly think to myself, "Hey, that actually would make more sense in Japanese", or "It would sound so much better in Japanese". Not that my grasp of that language is better than my knowledge of English, given that I haven't used it in yonks; with what little Japanese I have left over from university, I can still some how picture Murakami would sound perfect in Japanese. In English, he reads like a halting, stilted Hemmingway. He just doesn't sound as "right" as he would in his native tongue.

And that's what I thought of Cornelia Funk's The Thief Lord. Somehow, the story didn't "get" me and the dialogue sounded stilted. It was not a very pleasant read. Because of Murakami and Funk, I have tried to keep away from translations as much as I can. But I gave in a couple of days ago.

I bought Isabel Hoving's Dream Merchant. The first few sentences were fine. A few pages into the book and I realised I was not enjoying it; the dialogue felt stilted (again) and the writing was stiff. I could somehow imagine it to read better in its native Dutch. The plot is interesting but the writing (translation?) takes some muster to wade through. And I just don't have the patience. I am deciding to ditch this book after going through about five chapters worth. Maybe someone else could fare better than me.

My other habit that lands me with more than one book unread is buying based on the cover alone. Sometimes I just wing it and pick a book for its cover. Wrong move. I should never judge a book by its cover. Ever. Even though nice covers are pleasing to the eye and quite pleasurable to collect. Bertrice Small's Forbidden Pleasures cover was attractive and had the blurb shouting, "Bertrice Small [is] the reigning of ... erotica, romance, love, and lust!" - Literary Times

Pah. Give me Susie Bright (of Herotica and Best American Erotica fame), Mary Anne Mohanraj (Torn Shapes of Desire: Internet Erotica) or even Julia Quinn any day. ANY day. Forbidden Pleasures is not very tasteful erotica, and the writing borders on sucky and boring. I went through two chapters and skimmed the erotic bits. And came away wishing for more Julia Quinn (I'd read two of her books by the time I picked up Bertrice Small). Regency romances that boast wit, humour and lively characters are gems indeed. And Julia Quinn delivers them all with a bang. Although I did notice that all her women protagonists tend to talk an awful lot, are self-assured and more than a little opinionated. But who cares when her writing shows them off to such witty and humorous light? Did I mention that her writing is oh, so witty?

I should have just stuck to perusing the Women's Fiction leisurely and casually. Not all Women's Fiction are gems even though most of them have interesting, attractive enough covers.

After such a scathing review, I wonder if I coud possibly pawn Forbidden Pleasures off for oh, say half its price of RM42?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Blowout month

October is book blowout month. I won't even bring myself to go through the agony of counting how many books I bought; it would give me a cardiac arrest.

All I can say is: I am running out of space.


Love is so short,
forgetting is so long.

- Pablo Neruda, from Tonight I Can Write

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Not enough

It's not enough. Somehow, whatever it is that I'm doing for the environment now is not enough. I feel it in my bones. It doesn't matter if I signed up for contributions and to be a member of both WWF and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), it's still not enough.

How can it be enough when all around me I see red clay, flattened to the ground and concrete jungles replacing what was once green? Merely donating to nature causes and joining in on nature and conservation drives is not enough.

We are not doing enough fast enough. We are losing more green, extinguishing wildlife and using up the earth's resources faster than we can save or protect them.

And I don't know what to do about it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Our legacy to our future

This week was the first time in a long while since I'd taken the NKVE toll road that cuts behind Mont Kiara to connect to Jalan Duta and the Segambut roundabout.

I was stunned and shocked to see that to the left and right of the areas after the toll, where lush green used to be, is the devastating mark of development. And it's the kind of development that wipes out all traces of nature and any sign that there used to be abundant trees or wildlife. In its place are the ugly building blocks of man: concrete skeletons of the massive monstrosities that will be apartments, condominiums and shopping malls. Tower after tower, block after block and square after square of cold grey (or soon to be beige, cream or peach) angles and corners.

Gone are the verdant trees and the low brushes covereing the hillsides flanking the toll road. Instead of fresh cool greenery absorbing the sunlight will be hard angles reflecting and deflecting the sun.

A friend told me that area was supposed to be a reserved area; protected land that was to be a "green lung"; that was what it was until unscrupulous (albeit wealthy and connected developers) paid off corrupted government officials to approve building and land rights to churn out a profit.

Thus is the nature of Malaysians: short term gains for long term detriment. Because the people who are pushing the paper and who have the most means to make a difference cannot, will not see the forest for the trees. We take for granted what we have; we neither treasure it nor seek to protect what is rightfully ours to protect. We never give back in return, instead we take, take and continue to take. What's there is not just ours for the taking; it is there for us to protect and nurture for generations to come.

By the time we realise what we've been doing wrong and what we've lost, it will be too late. And those that will suffer may not be us, it will most definitely be our future generations.

As I rounded the bend into the road that takes me to the Segambut roundabout after the toll, a monitor lizard was trying to cross the road from the edge of the greens. It had just begun to amble across in its own lazy way that only monitor lizards can, with its tongue flicking in and out, when I passed it by. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that there were no cars anywhere behind me and sent up a prayer that the lizard would make it safely across and not be reduced to a bloody blot on the road in its quest for greener pasture.

Dug the hole deeper

I failed to mention that my visit to Payless Books wasn't the first trip to the bookstore this month. It was the third. I'd visited Kino twice already since today. And I didn't walk away empty-handed...

And they say you'll never learn...

The biblioholic has struck again!

Struck out, rather...

I got lucky at Payless Books today, or so I thought. Picked up :

1. Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - Book One (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) @ RM15

2. Marian Keyes' Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married @ RM9.90

3. Gail Carson Levine's Cinderellis and the Glass Hill (Princess Tales) @ RM12

While I was counting my lucky stars for finding Percy in hardcover
(and Sasha's since I was getting the book for her), I should have known luck such as mine doesn't just fall out of the sky. When I picked up Keyes from the romance section (romance!!), I had a niggling feeling I'd probbaly either read or bought Lucy Sullivan before. The feeling stayed with me up until I paid for it.

That little voice in my head kept telling me the title looked just a bit too familiar and I probably had the book stashed away in the corner of my shelf somewhere.

Sigh...true enough. I dove straight for the lowest shelf right in the back in the second tier row of books hidden behind the first tier in front: ... Married staring out at me from behind. No need to dig it up. I can recognize the typefont for that title anywhere.

I wonder if my mother-in-law will like it?

Monday, October 09, 2006


I waded through two chapters of Feist’s Silverthorn before I gave up and decided to re-immerse myself in Weiner’s bumper issue of Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, although this time, I reread only the former. Going through Feist’s Magician ate up my appetite for fantasy. And suddenly I don’t find myself very interested in most of the kiddy lit on the shelves either. I’d suddenly developed a craving for chic-lit and found myself trawling the bookshelves for some yummy feminine writing I could devour. Sadly my enthusiasm was sorely dampened by my finicky tastes: the books on the shelf were either too cute, or the subject matter too common or I just didn’t like the name of the title or the author.

And so I ended up with these from Kino:

Dogs of Dreamtime: A Story About Second Chances and the Power of Love by Karen Shanley
I Am a Pencil : A Teacher, His Kids, and Their World of Stories by Sam Swope
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman

I breezed through I Am A Pencil. Reading about teaching Inner City kids English and what a difficult job teaching really is, reminds me how glad that I am not a teacher. I wouldn’t be a good one. I wouldn’t even be an average one. The greatest contributing factor to this conclusion is that I have no patience, or very little of it.

I have just started on Dogs of Dreamtime. It may be a while before I complete it. Going through books at the rate I do is akin to being a sponge: I absorb the words but the retention rate is minimal. Only a select few remain in my memory. Those that totally blow my mind away are few and far in between but I can count most of these from my kiddy lit category.

I can safely say that I have at least 4 books that I have not touched yet. And still, I’m already thinking of what to buy next. What is it with this obsession for books? Or for owning them? It’s as if I fear that I may run out of books to read. Or that I’ll be stuck somewhere without anything to keep me occupied. I’ve taken my reading a step further by reading in the car at the stop lights or in the jam. It’s a more efficient use of time than getting worked up because I’m only moving two inches as opposed to two meters.

Now if only I could find the space to fit all my books in one location: my house. Now they’re just scattered over at my parents’ as well as a storage location somewhere in Cheras/Kajang, in mothball-filled boxes. I have a feeling I will never see my whole collection in one location; there is just no space.
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