Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Solitaire Mystery

Finally a post. Finally I've done some reading during the hols. I wouldn't get any reading done if I was stuck on land.

The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder was an apt book to read as it was a journey to Athens to search for the protagonist's mother, who has left to search for herself. Likewise, I'm perhaps veering on the edge of quarter life crises, and am searching for what I truly want in life. Seemingly like Le Grand Voyage, my brother-in-law was also travelling with his father, together with my sister and myself to Athens. Although I finished the novel only on the 9hr ferry ride back from Santorini from Athens, I whooped in glee as I identified the busy Syntagma Square and the majestic Acropolis mentioned in the novel.

The father, a highly-deemed philosopher by his son, raised issues about self-awareness and questions one's existence. Apart from these reflective moments, the story is wrapped around with the pack of 52 cards. I thought that it was thought-provoking to have each card representing 52 weeks of a year: 13 cards in each set (13x4=52weeks), with the Joker card to rule 1 day of the year - 52 weeks x 7 days = 364 / 365 days. And because the Joker does not belong to any set in a pack of cards, it has no identity, nor form, and thus questions its existence. That is, being a philosopher.

Apart from how cards represent the Calendar, relations from card-reading to Oedipal Complex surfaces in the second part of the novel, about how one cannot escape Fate. It was predictable to have the protagonist's life unfolding to the prophecy according to the cards during the celebration of the Joker's year, but nevertheless well-wrapped and wholesome.

One-third into the story, I became confused as it was a story-within-a-story, save for the different font. I didn't like the way the father throws faint light upon issues and not deal with them, or perhaps the writer's intention was merely to provoke some self-reflection in his readers. Before I continue just a little more, I must declare that I've not read Sophie's World and this is my first read of Jostein Gaarder's works. The predictability of the plot can be intepreted both ways - it was anti-climatic to know how the story would continue and end; yet I was geared to read on, to see if the prophecy of the cards would be fulfilled. Currently I'm reading The Road Less Travelled and Beyond by M. Scott Peck, a book long-left on my shelf. Hopefully more questions would emerge as I transform into a Joker before returning to Athens, Bangkok and Singapore.

Bookclubbing from Istanbul, 8.35pm.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

QLRS Special Screening Series: The Willow Tree

Sorry, this is a little late.

QLRS Special Screening Series: The Willow Tree

Catch the Singapore premiere of acclaimed Iranian auteur Majid Majidi's latest masterpiece The Willow Tree at the inaugural QLRS Special Screening Series, supported by the National Museum of Singapore and Festive Films.

The Willow Tree is about a university professor who regains sight and suddenly realises that what he sees now is different from what he "saw" as a blind man. Majidi, feted for classics like Children Of Heaven and Baran, has made a spiritually redemptive and visually stunning film with scenes that stay with you long after. The film opens in Singapore on August 23.

The Quarterly Literary Review Singapore (QLRS) is an independent and volunteer-driven effort which has been covering the Singapore literary scene since 2001 in the areas of poetry, prose, drama and literary criticism.

* In Persian with English subtitles, rating PG

Date: Friday, August 3
Time: 8pm
Venue: National Museum, Stamford Road, Gallery Theatre, Basement
Admission: Pay as you wish (but do contribute to help cover their costs!)

Seating is on first come, first serve basis

For more information: please email

Friday, December 22, 2006

Kafka on the Shore

Over my one week backpacking trip in Cambodia, I've finished reading a novel which was bought 4 months ago - Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I've read his other bestselling novel before - Norwegian Wood and had enjoyed it. Every now and then, Japanese flavour (its culture, food and names) surfaces in his novels and subtly reminds his readers that it is a translation after all. He douses his writing with lines from famous philosophers and writers to enhance the joy of reading and strengthens the emphasis his characters try to make. The storylines are often unique and surprising, and probably ambiguous, but wonderfully and beautifully metaphorical.

Kafka on the Shore is about a fifteen-years old runaway in search of his mother and sister, and unexpectedly stumbles into a series of events which fulfilled his father's prophecy - killing his father, and sleeping with his mother and sister to be with them. Golly, what kind of warped notion is that?

No, it is not another Flowers in the Attic kind of incestuous relationship and it isn't so much of a typical Oedipal Greek tragedy here. Somehow, Murakami beautifully wraps the story in metaphors whereby one escapes to unknown places for soul-seeking (not searching) and to zones where time and memory are still and age is trapped. A strange man loses his worldly abilities in the academia but gains supernatural abilities to speak to cats and create significant effects in the metaphysical world of desires and dreams. A spiritual flute made by 'Johnny Walker' from the souls of cats; a quirky and mysterious 'Colonel Sanders' who provides answers and solutions to end searches (Nakato's goal and the police's search for Crow); a complicated-gendered but well-read librarian and an uncouth man with typical physical needs who learnt to appreciate the aesthetic nature of classical music and knowledge through books.

As the novel spoke of being lost in a mental labyrinth, physically wandering in an unfamiliar forest, comprehending ways in an adolescent maze, I have thoroughly enjoyed meandering around in the labyrinth with the characters within the novel itself.

I'd rate it 6.5/10.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yes it kills

Yes. Silence does kill the spirit. I hear you. :)

I am currently reading Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. (This year's Man Booker Prize's winner) I've probably read 3 chapters but have so far found the language to be rich and culturally embedded.

Reading has been slow going but hopefully steadily. Will post periodically to update on my progress.

Monday, December 11, 2006


I finished reading The Teacher Man by Frank McCourt during a backpacking trip in Vietnam, and yes, I've actually read until Chap 6 of The Master and Margarita but I haven't gotten down to blogging about it yet.

Sorry, procrastination takes over during hols. I'm out of town again for a week of backpacking in Cambodia this weekend. Until then, yeah?

Meanwhile, The Teacher Man reflects pretty much of what I've been doing in my workplace - creating a presence and let the act flow rather than using the word 'nevertheless' in the room. But for next year's acting, I shall use his method of 'engaging' his budding audience by using nursery rhymes and food reviews. Interesting ideas and I am crossing my fingers in hope that my audience would be outspoken like the American kids.

Silence kills, you know.

Just like silence on a blog. Sorry.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

New Book!

Fleeting thoughts, transient prints, whimsical desires.

2 more months to go in 2006.

I'm going to keep this blog going despite the disappointment. But well, it's Singapore, and I understand that living in this red ferocious globe seems to make us busy all the time. Yes, I mean all the time. Looking around me as I type this words - my table's really a sight to behold in my bedroom. Scribbles for a new script piled on an almost-hidden library book, my new 2007 organiser under my elbow, an unwashed Nalgene, a new Travel Planner under a Moodle DIY manual, an opened new notebook to plan for next year's YEP, a keychain from Krabi, a checklist for Monday's administrative matters, a pair of unused pink dumbells, Cambodian maps, a washed lunchbox. Such are the remnants of the past busy schedule and items of future plans.

I've not been sleeping in my room for the past nights, so my washed laundry, a new sportsbag I bought yesterday, a facial brush and cushions are strewn all over my bed.

It's hols finally and I have to get back in shape. No more procrastination and that means the same goes for this blog.

Enough ranting (sorry guys). Here's what I've been reading: 'Tis by Frank McCourt. I finished Angela's Ashes a couple of months ago and bought The Teacher Man, so I thought to myself, 'might as well finish the series'. I have this thing about reading all of the author's works since I got started on him/her - well, if the first one proved worthy of my time. I started this habit since I read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles when I was 15 and got almost all her books until the late 1990s I think. The last few of hers that I've got are Violin, Memnoch the Devil and The Servant of the Bones. I've got Rice's Witches Chronicles as well, if anyone's interested.

I don't really fancy Frank McCourt because it's pretty narrative and straightforward, but it's interesting on the whole because his Irish life is different from what we have. And to view the American dream stemmed from his humble background in Limerick was insightful, echoing how the migrants would have desired and worked hard for.

I plan to finish this book pretty soon, then move onto The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I started the first chapter before starting on 'Tis and it proved to be very thought-provoking, thus I decided to read it with more seriousness. Well, as compared to reading Jodi Picoult and Frank McCourt mindlessly anyway. I'll blog about The Master and Margarita as soon as I begin the first five chapters. Probably next week.

Anyone wants to join me?

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Everyone's been missing in action, so have I. Well, my home's LAN wire is broken so I better get this quickly typed and over-with.

My Sister's Keeper - Typical American novel.

Fire element from the father follows the son, who creates fire and gets attention from the former. One extinguishes it to gain control, the other generates it to distract him from the problems at home.

And of course, my sympathy won't go out for Sarah, whose pathetic life revolves around Kate (is that her name? I don't have the novel with me and I finished it a month back). She's selfish and myopic in her quest to prolong her daughter's life. It was an overdose of maternal love, somehow. To balance the equation, Kate (is that her name?) surprisingly fills up the lack of consideration and love in Sarah by doing the unthinkable - asking Anna to kill her by refusing to donate any parts of herself anymore.

The twist comes at the end when Anna dies - transforming her into an eternal matyr and evoke pathos from the reader. How Hollywood. I'm not surprised that the novel's going to be made into a film. I'd like to watch it when it is screened, though. Just to see which cutie-pie Hollywood actress is going to be Anna. Prob a Keannu Reeves kinda guy for the brother, heh. As you can tell, I am pretty outdated with the names of Hollywood stars.

I didn't really like this novel and I finished it pretty quickly. It was an easy and smooth read, and I didn't pay much consideration of its literary value - or the lack of it. I would give My Sister's Keeper a rating of 4.4 over 10.