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Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Of Prostitution - Wuya by Jiu Dan, and Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho 
Pick Yin churns book reviews out like magic. Me, I hardly have time to trim my nails. ;) Here's her take on Paulo Coelho's Eleven Minutes:
Eleven Minutes is a result of Paulo Coelho's chance reading of a manuscript left for him by a Brazilian prostitute while he was lecturing in Mantua, Italy. He then proceeded with his own research and eventually interviewed Maria (nom de guerre), whose story this book is based on.


Eleven Minutes talks about prostitution from the point of view of a woman who chose to be in it not because she like to do what is expected of her but because she could not find a good reason not to for she thought had lost all her chances of finding happiness in life. [More here]
I haven't heard of that book, but it sounds something like the Singaporean book on Chinese student prostitution - Wuya, by Jiu Dan - equally interesting too, if with perhaps less a less sympathetic plot and none of its mysterious origins - Wuya was an entirely kiss-and-tell novel exposing the double lives of China-born students in Singapore.
The title was inspired by the sight of a flock of crows at a Singapore beach: The birds with a bad rep reminded her of people suffering the same handicap. [Source]
I flipped through it briefly some years back - the English translation sounded rather disjointed and abrupt - I'd reckon that the nuances and expressions were not imparted the way it was intended to be as in the original Mandarin version. I wouldn't call it a beautiful piece of writing - it was a honest, if rather shocking and controversial story - certainly an eye opener for an innocent 19 year old ;)

I read Wuya at a Popular bookstore three years ago, but I reckon should be now widely available at all leading bookstores in Malaysia.

graceshu  # 9:22 PM


Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Random Online Book Communities & Er. Random Stuff 
For LiveJournal users, there's The Book You Crew, a community of book lovers, with various entries that are book-related. Booklists, open discussions and the like. Then there's also Book Tards, which I'm asssming would be short for the [quite unflattering] Book-Retards? =P This one has reviews, lists, recommendations, as well as books for sale/trade.

As for Yahoo Groups - the local ones which I know of are Malaysian Book Crossers, part of the BookCrossing.Com network - serendipitous and free/global/exchange of books - its a pretty neat concept - but I haven't tried it myself, too sayang my books to release them into the loving arms of serendipity :P

[Random Image To Break Up The Text]

The other one would be Book Cafe, a community which I'm part of, founded by Pak Adib. They discuss literature-related stuff, and review/give comments about each other's book list, swap/sell books and the like. I'm not exactly a regular, but I've attended one of their combo meetup with the bookcrossers. I found them a very enthusiastic, jolly and loud bunch of people ;)

Pls feel free to share any other book communities not previously mentioned.

Am also thinking of starting a bookreviewblog forum of sorts. I don't quite like relying on comments box, e-mails, mailing lists, and a seperate wiki to facilitate discussion and the like; perhaps shall use phpBB on the currently inactive BlogMyBook.Org.

What do you think? :)
[Of the idea, not my grammar :P]

graceshu  # 1:27 AM


Monday, September 13, 2004
Bookshops! And discounts! 
Popular Bookstore has opened in 1Utama Shopping Centre! In the old wing, above Marks & Spencers. I don't know whether to rejoice, or feel chagrined...

Bookshops are my especial weakness; I almost never walk out of a bookshop without buying anything. Arrgh must resist must resist must resist... talk about poor self-control!

On Thursday I was in aforesaid new Popular Bookstore and bought five books out of the six in Paul Taggart's series, Art Techniques from Pencil to Paint, for RM25.90 each. Yes, I'm interested in art, and although I haven't touched paintbrushes since I was 16 I hope to take up art again. Goodness knows whether I'll actually do it, but the INTENTION is there. Ha.

Oh, and Big Bookshop has opened in Atria Shopping Centre, Damansara Jaya -- taking over the old Popular Bookstore, which has now moved to Ikano Power Centre. Big Bookshop generally has very affordable (read: relatively cheap) books, so again, I'm not sure whether to laugh or to cry. I think I'll laugh, but my wallet is crying... :D

There is also a PayLess Books in Atria -- and PayLess often has the most incredible bargains, it's Eyeris' favourite book haunt -- so I predict that that shopping centre is going to be one of my new favourite places to be. Oh dear. Somebody stop me!!!

Sale! Sale! This just in from a friend:
More devastating news, acmabooks.com is having a sale with 22% off (for all Maybank2u.com members) all books until the end of this month. I'm trying my best to limit myself to just RM200 (that's when they give you free shipping) but it's agonising! Some books are cheaper -- it seems as tho the ones I'm looking at are! But my colleague looked for some which were more expensive than MPH. Ah, the joys of shopping online... go check it out anyway...
Darn! I'm not a Maybank2u.com member! Perhaps it's just as well, though ;D

Sunflower  # 6:00 PM


Blessed are the children. 
Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card.

The future of war is in the hands of the children. That's the premise of 'Ender's Shadow', a parallel book to 'Ender's Game'. In the not too distant future, humans have become a space faring race, and encounter a sentient species degratorily nicknamed 'Buggers'. The Buggers are a hive mind, reminiscent of 'Aliens' and 'Starship Troopers'. The encounter is acrimonious, and results in the extermination and colonization of several planets previously occupied by humans. Sort of like pest control, in reverse. The initial battles finally result in the defeat of the Buggers, after the destruction of the Hive Queen by Mazer Rackham. Both sides retire to lick their wounds, with neither side ever having discovered the other's home planet, for the administration of the final coup-de-grace.

The 'Ender' referred to in the title, is Andrew Wiggin, a prodigy in the art of space warfare. The powers controlling Earth have decided that the best way to gain an advantage over the enemy is to search through the children of Earth, via intelligence testing and other means, for a prodigy, the next Alexander, Napoleon, Von Clausewitz. Children meeting this criteria are sent to 'Battle School', where they play war games, in groups of 'toons', in null gravity rooms.

Ender's Game initially saw life as a short story, which I read in an anthology called 'Lightfighters'. Card took the story, and lengthened it into Ender's Game. In the story, there was a character called 'Bean', was was younger than Ender Wiggin, but possibly as or more intelligent and better at warfare than Ender. Ender's Shadow is Bean's story, of his life on the streets of Amsterdam, of his life in Battle School, of his view of the boy genius Ender Wiggin, on whom all human kind have placed their hopes of winning the war against the Buggers.

Ender's Shadow, is, as Card says, a parallel story. It tells the story of Ender's Game, but from the viewpoint of a very different pair of eyes. Bean is a genetically manipulated human child, whose initial conception was in contravention of international law forbidding genetic experimentation. Designed to be a genius, he survives the mass culling of his fellows in the genetic lab, and survives on the streets of Amsterdam using a mixture of guile, cunning, and the ability to read at 3 years of age.

The book is also a study of a future history, and a political situation very familiar to our current situation in the world today. It is part of a quartet of books, beginning with Ender's Game, and continuing on with Xenocide, Speaker for the Dead and Children of the Mind. Ender's Shadow has it's own sequels, Shadow of the Hegemon and Shadow Puppets.

Orson Scott Card is a Hugo and Nebula award winning author, and his net presence can be found here. He also provides a very good guide on writing here.

My personal take on this book is that it was a very enjoyable read, and is very much a book in the 'space opera' style. A good study on society, politics, leadership and group dynamics.

xXx  # 1:51 PM


Sunday, September 12, 2004
Tax Relief Increase For Books 
It probably means nothing to those who still are financially dependant on their parental units, but this came out last Friday:
1. Tax relief increase from RM500 to RM700 for purchase of books
2. RM30mil for National library to buy reading material
from the Malaysian Budget 2005

graceshu  # 1:05 PM