"Wilayah Kutu" shows much promise at first glance - this collection of anthologies boasts a cover designed by Those Amazing Malay Boys! and threatens to be "27 SX - Sesuai Untuk Minda Matang Sahaja". I was like, whoaaa. Then I was like, heh. Then, feeling bravely liberal and confidently mature, I pawed nervously at the back cover, finding a quote from Rubaiyyat Si Umar Khayyam etched beside a list of prolific writers featuring several well-known personalities in the art scene, writers, a photographer, and even a famous gay blog-personality.
Proceeding with much caution and skepticism, I turned the pages expecting the usual talk about politics, religion, racism, love, drugs, GLBT issues, and perhaps one or two "shocking" pieces with a combination of the above.
I was a little disappointed; it was no mix-bag of m&ms, but good enough anyway. =P
I particularly liked "Tapi, Aku Hansem", a tongue-in-cheek take on Malaysian politics/politicians, as well as "Teknik Rebonding Terlalu Kencang Untukmu". My favourite photo-story was "Hempuk", although some could argue that this partiality is slightly biased. =P
"Almari Buku" had a little shock of modern-day HP Lovecraft to it, while the short story "Aku Idola Malang" oozed a sinister image of an Edgar Allan Poe in a songkok. "Lupa", on the other hand, was a rather weak attempt at a Malaysianized Andy Macnab - I felt like I got cheated for kopi-o-peng and roti canai at KLCC.
Heh. (Somebody buy me a thesaurus.)
Most of the GLBT stories were written by Nizam Zakaria. (Well, okay no LBT, just G.) Although the theme of his stories varied, they revolved mostly around gay characters living in KL. I found "Almari" slightly boring, and "Orang Ketiga" (by Dhojee) rather predictable. It's not a bad start for the Malaysian GLBT community/literature though - GLBT literature shouldn't be limited to just erotica.
"Kitaran, Pertukaran, Shopping, Cinta" waxed poetical of materialism and feelings as disposable and acquirable commodities of life, while "Tsunami" struck me as rather insightful and strangely calming.
But hehehehehe. I have a confession to make - I found this book intriguing enough to re-read twice - except for "Cinta Narkisisme II". Maybe it's just because there's simply too much similar fiction of its category swimming around the blogging scene. Simply disgusting. =P
I didn't quite expect ghost stories, actually. It didn't quite occur to me that "Children From The Fringes" would write cerita2 hantu. At any rate, they didn't quite appeal to me. I found the execution rather weak and flimsy. But maybe it's just me.
I also found "Ego Bunjut", "Lutsinar", and "Aku Dengan Tuhan" quite well written. The imagery of words which spoke to me most were:
kau kembali pada aku, untuk aku, pada masa itu aku intai lubang di karat pintu aku sedang menunggu
It's time to realize that Malay(sian) literature isn't just "Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa" or RM 5.00 paperbacks with wide-eyed nubile women in tudungs holding dearly to wiliting kutums of bunga mawar.
I still think it's a rather experimental(?)project, perhaps even elitist enough for only fellow anak anak mudas from the frinjan to appreciate. A good attempt, anyhow.