Sunday, July 30, 2006

Just a note

Something apart from Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper:

August 3 (Thursday): 7-9pm CLL
A discussion on Kite Runner

It's still a work day on Friday, and we've finished the book. Somehow I feel incomplete because we didn't get to sit together to discuss about it - only Shaz and I wrote a summary on it. Thus the interest in another book discussion on Kite Runner.

Well then, probably our outing on 25/8 for My Sisters' Keeper should have an agenda, a focused one!

Standing in someone else's shoes

How many times do we hear people saying this phrase? Easier said than done. This book really helps a lot by having each chapter written in the perspectives of one main character in the book. Before reading the book, I was thinking why would someone want to deny her sibling a chance to live? I would certainly not deny my brother a chance if this happens! (Touch Wood) Ya right!That is simply thinking things on the surface. No deep thoughts put into the problem. Without thinking, I would say yes! I will save him! Once you pass the impulsive stage and you start your deep thinking, Things change! What must I do to save him? How long will the process takes? How many needles will be poked? Will he be saved eventually? There are endless questions to ask. I forgot to ask how my brother would be feeling? It is so difficult to stand in someone else's shoes, to be in someone else's position. Even if that someone else is your closest kin... The giving end or the receiving end? Who is in a greater agony?

Chewing on my thoughts

As I warily laid on the chair at the dentist (why do some people call it the 'dentist's chair' when it's the patient who sits on it?) yesterday, I shut my eyes and winced in pain. It was a heavy and excruciatingly painful payment for not visiting the dentist for the past 4 years, especially when you've got two dented wisdom teeth causing problems. As I tightly sealed my eyelids, tensed palms clutching each other on my belly, I tried to think about what to blog on the first two days of the novel. So here goes my trail of thoughts on just two characters:

Brian is a fire-fighter who loves astronomy. Our profession also calls for us to fight sporadic or continuous fire all the time, doesn't it? I shall leave the fire-fighting qualities as that, since we know that Brian is the father-figure who tries to keep things in-control in the house - with an individualistic son, an emotional and distraught wife, a self-occupied sickly daughter and lastly, the youngest who holds the elixer in her bone marrow.

But to be an astronomist? Brian looks at the sky and has a knack of seeing certain patterns of the galaxy which most of us don't, if we are not into astronomy. He sees the bigger picture of things - 'It is so easy to think that the world revolves around you, but all that you have to do is to stare up at the sky to realise it isn't that way at all.' (pg 41) Unlike Sara (I assume so up to this point of the story) whose worries revolve around only Kate, Brian cares about Jesse and Anna besides Kate's conditions.

Sara tries hard to prolong Kate's life, probably also in an attempt to redeem her own failures, desperation increased by her sister's scorn.

As for the rest of the characters, I haven't really thought about it. By the time I got to Sara, my female dentist (who is clear in her explanations and prompt in solutions, but costly - I kept staring at her ring thinking about how much I contributed to it) was done! So there's that - my one hundred and twenty-five dollars' worth of contribution to this week's entry.

One thought to chew on with all of you - did your parents have a plan when they had you?


Monday's poem - Here are some thoughts.

Fire, being as it is - destructive and impartial calling someone else 'brother' and being brotherly in 'holding him close, wrapping him in circles'. But at the same time he is 'surging' - like he is ready to pounce and attack. He is also waiting to use and change his 'brother'. Somewhat like the Anna in the story - a close kin, ready to attack and defend her rights. The irony of it likened to fire is pretty evident.

The poem could have been chosen by the author also because of Brian's profession as a firefighter. I'm not sure, but is this what Syl would call mirror-images?

On hindsight as well, the poem reminds me of the fire in the core of the earth, ready to meet the surface of the earth, the crust as lava, but maybe, not just yet; 'not for years' but 'maybe thousands of years'.

Tuesday's poem is also about fire - in another form - as the light of a candle. Anyone care to shed some light?

which line struck you?

Here's a question for everyone to reflect upon. Add your line/phrase in the comments.


This book clearly demonstrates the power of subjectivity - the manner in which each character is drawn to act, react and interact is based on their perception of the situation. The emotions become terribly clear as the chapters shift from one character to another.

I feel compelled to take sides as I read the thoughts, reflections and actions of each individual person. Initially, I was drawn towards Anna and her struggles but as the story shifts back to Sara and her anguish and pain that was felt in 1990, I can't help but to emphatise with the mother's distress.

At this point in the book - its hard to take sides. It really depends on who's making a stronger point, isn't it?

It all depends... I think I'll like to remain objective at this point.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Who's Right? Whose Rights?

After reading MONDAY, I gave my sister and my boyfriend the outline of our bookish. My sister said, "so sad." My boyfriend said, "That's precisely my (philosophy) exam question." I thought, "WOW".

Then, like always, he and I started an intellectual discussion, or rather, in his words, "you must first make your stand so that you can have a sound argument." And we went on talking about how a Kantian and an Utilitarian would approach such a moral issue and how an argument can be counter argued and how a counter argument can be counter argued too. What an argument!

The witty bit was like this,

"Everyone has the right to fight his own rights."
"She has the rights to her own body, but she does not have rights to everything. Like who gives her the right to damage other people's property?"
"She has her right to do anything she wants to just that she must face the consequences."
"Who gave her that right? GOD?"
"Everyone is entitled to human rights, right?"
"What about her parents? Do they have a right to her body?"
"Well, maybe. I know of many parents who claim rights over their children rights all the time."
"So who do you think is right?"
"Well, I feel that the parents are right."
"Don't feel. You must be sure who is right."
"Ok, I feel that the parents are right."
"Ok, then why didn't you say so."
"I said so."

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Adios Amigos!

To the BC members, readers, Literature and English teachers, and all who like simple reads, I am proud to annouce the debut of my first short story.

It is title, "Little Star" and if I were to have a chance, I would be my own illustrator too. I wish to encourage EL and Lit teachers of elementary learners to take a read as I believe my level is very comfortable for young readers. In fact, you can encourage them, that this is what they are capable of achieving as well.

It is a little dream come true for me too. I had ever thought of being a writer too. Nonetheless, I did not pursue it for I am not capable of bombastic language. Then again, today, it is different. I finally have an avenue for my writing -- my blog.

I anticipate your support!

A Page Turner

"... a page turner ..." I quote Daily News, New Zealand.

It is indeed an intriguing book and a very different one indeed.

Firstly, it has no content page and most interestingly, the chapters are named by the respective character. This approach is new to me and it allows each character to be in the limelight each time unlike in most books, the protagonist is usually the narrator. It is really good as it allows each character to be his/her own narrator and we get to view things from their respective perspectives. I like it!

I also noticed one more thing as I browse through till the end of the book--not a single chapter is named after "Kate", the ill-taken sister. Does this means that the whole story revolves around her, yet she is not given a chance to speak for herself?

What a story. The whole drama finishes in about 10 days.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Official Start of the 2nd Book

First of all, Thank you for voting this bookish. Shaz said that I have to set the discuission dates, so here goes....
For those who have not gotten the bookish, please use this weekend to get the book.
You will find that this book is divided into chapters of days. Therefore i will be using this as a way to mark our reading.

Our Timeline for 'My Sister's Keeper'
  • Chapters Monday and Tuesday: 24/7-28/7
  • 1st Discussion: 29/7 onwards
  • Chapters Wednesday and Thursday: 31/7-4/8
  • 2nd discussion: 5/8 onwards
  • Chapters Friday and Weekends: 7/8-11/8
  • 3rd Discussion:12/8 onwards
  • Chapter New Monday to Thursday: 14/8-20/8
  • Final Discussion21/8 onwards
  • Bookish Clubbers Outing: 26/8

This bookish will last us for a month! Hope you will enjoy the bookish and do remember not to blog ahead of chapters.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I recommend 'Of Marriageable Age' by Sharon Maas

hi there

I was given a book by a friend, who is an avid reader, entitled OF MARRIABLE AGE' by Sharon Maas. I think she was trying to tell me something! :)

Anyway, the setting of this book is in India and it is the kind of book that follows the lifespan of some of its main characters.

I would love to give you a synopsis but there isn't any at the back of the book - only comments saying it is a great read. Plus i have not read it myself so i figure this would give me a reason to read it if we select the book.

So, that's my pick :)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Nomination Day

Life of Pi is a masterful and utterly original novel that is at once the story of a young castaway who faces immeasurable hardships on the high seas, and a meditation on religion, faith, art and life that is as witty as it is profound. Using the threads of all of our best stories, Yann Martel has woven a glorious spiritual adventure that makes us question what it means to be alive, and to believe.

Though it can be lengthy and boring at times, I bet my last cent that you’d use knowledge gained in those pages in your everyday life, especially in your teaching.

I was recommended this book by a Czech couple who have been traveling Asia in the hope of finding God in their own special way.

Where peace is amiss in our society, I strongly believe that this book tries, tries that is, to marry the canonic religions into one to succeed life.

A tragedy strikes Pi, the main character – Piscine Patel. Life changes drastically when he loses his family. 227 days lost! 227 days of ordeal. And as this novel comes to its brilliant conclusion, Pi shows us that the story with the imaginative overlay is also the story that contains the most truth.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Nomination/Recommendation-- My Sister's Keeper.

I must admit that the first thing that caught my attention to this book was the innocent looking girl on the cover of the book. But of course there is more to it.This book is beautifully written through the perspective of everyone in the Fitzgerald Family. Everyone is searching for their purpose in life, what if your purpose in life was already laid out for you even before you were born....
Choose this book by Jodi Picoult to submerge yourself in this heartwrenching story about the Fitzgerald Family united in love yet divided in obligations and sacrifices. (inner thoughts) because I am halfway through and I cannot stop..

Oh and it is going to be made into a movie...
''My Sister's Keeper Premise/Synopsis:Follows a family in which a daughter has leukemia and her younger sister was conceived to provide a donor match. However, the family is torn apart when, after years of medical procedures, the healthy younger sibling sues her parents for the right to decide how her body is used.''

Some reviews

'Hope and heartbreak fill the pages of My Sister's Keeper, which Picoult describes as a sort of Sophie's Choice for the new millennium. "If you use one of your children to save the life of another," the author asks, "are you being a good mother . . . or a very bad one?" Blending science, philosophy, morality and ethics, this is a thought-provoking thriller that grips and won't let go. '

'With the fine instincts of an investigative reporter and intuitive storyteller, Jodi Picoult, already critically acclaimed for her previous best selling novels, zeroes in on the issue of genetically engineered children who are born to save their siblings lives. In the process, she creates a moving saga of a family faced with the inevitable loss of one of their own.'

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Nomination - the glass palace

the glass palace - vote me!

I think this is one of those books when on our own we'll never read. Its rich in its descriptive language, its historical and Asian. So, here's my sales pitch: Choose this book which we will all enjoy and at the same time we can be enriched linguistically and culturally but need moral support to keep going!

Here are some reviews found on the net.

Like its namesake, THE GLASS PALACE reflects different sides of many historical issues through its characters. Ghosh infuses warmth and empathy into the telling, bringing history to life in a way that's both subtle and strong: you become absorbed in the telling, in the events and characters; their impact lasts long after you've finished the novel. Rich in detail, lyrical and profound, THE GLASS PALACE is a book to be savored with your full attention. --- Reviewed by Jamie Engle

"(B)ig, bold, ambitious. It's novel as an event. Two centuries, three generations, three countries -- the size of its life is finely balanced by the enormity of its ideas. Here in this book of memory and movement, the agony of the refugee illuminates the idea of exodus, the power of the empire enhances the powerlessness of its keepers, freedom neutralises choice, and displacement is a permanent state of the dreamer. It's the human interest story of the great Indian diaspora, its loss and longing in the time of war and colonialism." - S. Prasannarajan, India Today

Sounds good right?

Friday, July 07, 2006

the next bookish

As we close the chapter on the kite runner, we wait with anticipation for our next bookish. Want to nominate the next bookish? Here's how.

Clubbers, you have up to the 16th July 2006 to nominate the next bookish. To nominate...
1. Post an entry titled, "Nomination - (title of book)
2. Include a short intro to the book - author, synopsis, background
3. A convincing short paragraph on why we should all read the book

Please nominate 1 bookish only.

To vote for your choice... (which cannot be your own book, of course)

1. Add comment to your choice, "I vote for you!"
Please note that you can only vote ONCE! (Logan, please don't cheat by voting more than once, or by voting for your own bookish)

Nominations are now open.

PS. If your bookish gets voted in, you become the next chair. The chair's job is to set the timeline and nudge the discussions along if it steers or stagnate (or disappears).
PSS. When the new bookish is voted, clubbers are to indicate whether or not they are participating for that bookish's discussions. The list of clubbers are updated before we commence.
(Do take another look at Syl's entry titled "ANNOUNCEMENT" if you are not sure.)

my i-like-it-i-don't-like-it approach

A minute ago, I went over to my bookshelf and scanned for the kite runner. It's been awhile. Like Syl, I am all set for the next book, and while I'm anticipating the next book, I have read several in between, albeit half reads.

So here it is. My little contribution to the literary world of bookish clubbers, though to tell you the truth, I only remember bits and scraps by now. (We mustn't stretch the bookishes too long! I can't remember! No more than 1 month please!) And I must add, I am no lierature student or teacher :) So here's a straightforward i-like-it-i-don't-like-it approach.

4 reasons why I enjoyed the kite runner

1. easy reading throughout - poignant, dramatic, reflective, exciting at times.
2. I like reading about cultures and places I'm not familiar with (in this case, Afghanistan)
3. no super duper long descriptive writing (like lord of the rings)
4. happy ending (it just has to be for me)

4 reasons why I didn't enjoy the kite runner as much

1. An unbelievable plot near the end (When Amir fights with Assef - come on! What are the chances of that happening!)
2. It got too predictable towards the end
3. Too straight forward a plot with hardly any surprises
4. Could have done with more insights on Afghanistan & the war.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

SyL's over-view of 'Kite Runner'

Alas we have reached the end! Then again, the 'end' of one novel means the start of a new one - hooray!

A note to some visitors of The Bookish Clubbers - f you have not finished reading the Kite Runner, do not read on - spoilers ahead!

It's rather tough to write an overview of the novel as it has been a month since I've read it. But I'll stick to my take about how melodramatic and typical Hosseini has written this story, with characters so unbelievably sacrificial and how cliche some images were as Amir redeemed himself. However, I must give credit to the smooth 'read-ability' he has engaged his readers in - for I finished the novel pretty quickly! It was engaging enough for me to be enchanted and read on. Apart from a couple of potholes I've experienced in his storyline, I'll rate him a 6.5/10. =)

Amir redeems himself by achieving three things - (i) fighting with Assef as a grown-up over Sohrab (a mini-Hassan) like how he should have reacted when he witnessed the sodomisation (ii) standing up for Sohrab in telling his father-in-law that he was not to refer to him as a Hazara, something Amir had been ashamed of admitting when he was a boy (iii) going through a tough and emotional process but successfully adopting his brother's son, to repay his own sin of silence and acknowledge their blood ties.

As it is a normal process for a protaganist to redeem him/herself throughout a story, I wondered how Amir would accomplish that task - being happily married yet without a child. I had expected a tough journey (duh) like a physical fight (so I was right), because Baba has always deemed Amir as physical weakling who doesn't 'rough it up'. Furthermore, Amir did not fight Assef when he was taunted and he kept quiet when Hassan was sodomised. This is what I mean when I said that there are many tell-tale or foreshadowing events about what was to come. Because I had already expected a physical fight to take place, I winced when I read that Amir emerged victorious, but with a cut lip, resembling Hassan's cleft lip. Also with Sohrab's excellent delivery with the slingshot, and shooting Assef's eye like what Hassan had threatened as a boy. But I did not expect that Sohrab would be the solution to Amir's childless home and that there was more difficulty ahead to get the American citizenship for Sohrab - so, redeeming himself wasn't that simple after all.

The use of mirror reflection emerges again (I'm not saying that using such a technique is bad; it's only a matter of when and what to be reflected that I am uncomfortable with) when Hassan's son resembles him - deft with his slingshot, fulfilled Hassan's threat of shooting Assef in the eye and falling prey to nasty Assef - and how Amir cut his upper lip into two, looking just like his brother, Hassan. How typical.

The twist of the story is knowing that Hassan is Amir's brother and that Baba isn't a saint after all. That explains Baba's partiality towards Hassan and how he reflects some of Baba's own characteristics. Talking about this point, Shaz's first entry about Irony and my question about who Hassan was crying for as he listened to the story came to mind (I was thinking aloud in my sister's kitchen in Brissy as I narrated the story to her).

On May 25th I wrote - "Something noteworthy - Amir wondered if Hassan was tearing for the regretful father who unknowingly mortally-wounded his son, or for the son who longed for his father's love. What do you reckon?" It's ironical for Hassan to cry for the characters in the story - the regretful father who allowed his other son to 'wound' him or for the son who longed to be loved by his true (I assumed) father, when he is in a position like that himself. It is, a story within a story.

Somehow, I think that there is one hero in the novel who has gone unmentioned - Ali. Imagine how he feels about his boss deflowering his wife (even though she is already in a wanton state that she is; it's more about integrity I would say) and yet paying so much loyalty towards Baba. What about raising a son that isn't his? To be deemed as a Hazara and let Hassan hang his head in shame, but to retain some dignity when they left the house during the accusation of stolen money from a spoilt and cowardly boy? Sigh... how noble of Ali. Sob sob.

On a good note, it was also an enjoyable read about how Amir looked at Afghanistan like a tourist after so many years, endangering himself for Rahim Khan initially, then directing his aim to seek for his remaining blood relative. I have visited Hosseini's website and he, like Amir, was revisiting Afghanistan from a nostalgic perspective, hence the vivid description of the place. Also, Hosseini found his old residence just like how Amir finally found Baba's house. Okay, okay, I'll allow the rest of you to read more on his website. It's a good view of how the novel came about. =)

The best part, or the best line, I would say for myself, would be "For you a thousand times over". Each time I read it, I feel a tug on my heart and I'll be swallowing a tightly-weaved ball of knotted pain - the innocence and devotion by the one who proclaimed it. Hosseini has successfully grasped the flapping thread of my heartstrings by starting his novel and ending it with the heart-rendering sentence, "For you a thousand times over".

As I closed the chapter, I sighed and smiled to myself - Hosseini's use of mirror reflections reigns once more.