Monday, March 31, 2008

Mammon, servant of

I opened an AdSense account, mostly because I'm so curious and I want to see how it works. Not because I think I'll actually make money from it. *guffaw* Let me know if Google pick up on me mentioning sex in my posts and therefore must be wanting to sell sex toys or Russian wives. I'm still sceptical and don't trust this technology at all.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Amy Tan: Saving Fish from Drowning

I couldn't resist picking this paperback up at the library (together with Evanovich that last time), since I figured what with the new job requiring commuting I'd have all this reading time. However, despite this undoubtedly being true, I haven't read much. I've got a colleague who takes the bus with me most days so we talk, or I forget the book, or I'm so tired... excuses aplenty. Also, this book is a bit of a slow read, like wading through treacle. It hasn't grabbed me, I'm nearing the end, and I've started skimming to be rid of it.

I think part of the trouble is that the storyline differs a little from the Typical Tan (says the woman who's read all of two novels). Bibi Chen is murdered shortly before she was about to lead a group of her friends on a Buddhist art trip through China and into Burma. The friends go anyway, and Bibi's ghost follows and narrates the story for us. They end up being amicably kidnapped and disappear.

It seems like she was driven to write it so as to take a stance against the Burmese junta (emotionally understandable and absolutely commendable!). However, somehow the heart isn't there. By heart I don't mean the outrage against the atrocities - that's there - but the sincerity that comes of writing what you know. There is a farcical tone which I'm supposed to enjoy according to one of the cover blurbs, but I don't. It just confuses me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Strage har så rätt så rätt

Läser DN på nätet, och fastnar för Fredrik Strages krönika. Heja Strage, du skriver bra krönikor tycker jag, men den här var ovanligt bra.

Och den ena repliken är egentligen inte mer korkad än den andra - i synnerhet inte när Duvalls ord citeras av en idiot som just eldat upp middagen. Ändå hamnade "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" på en hedervärd tolfteplats när American Film Institute listade de främsta filmreplikerna någonsin. "Nobody puts Baby in the corner" blev bara nummer 98.

Orättvist är vad det är. Och slutklämmen är också så rätt - faktiskt är Dirty Dancing en väldigt jämställd film. Sådana görs inte så ofta, tyvärr.

Hej, jag heter Bani, och jag gillar också Dirty Dancing.

PS: Nu fick jag markera texten i citatet och ändra till svart färg, för annars blir citaten i VIT text av någon outgrundlig anledning. Om någon klok människa vet hur man fixar det så hör av er.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Did I really WIN?

Oh my goodness, I can't describe how pleased this makes me! Scroll to the comments... Time for a happy dance I think! Luckily all my new co-workers are at lunch, so no-one is here to watch me jiggle...

Updates will follow.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Janet Evanovich: To The Nines

Okay, so I'd read it, but I reread it because why the hell not, and I hadn't blogged about it, so brief synopsis: the one where Stephanie has to find an Indian guest worker who has disapppeared, and ends up being stalked by carnation killer dude and goes to Las Vegas.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Another library failure

I borrowed Janet Evanovich's To The Nines yesterday - and I've read it. *stupid* Anyway, I got a job today so I can maybe afford to buy myself something fun to read instead. Hrmf.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Ken Bruen: The Guards

My sister lent me this. She’s bought it on recommendation. Apparently, according to the cover blurb, it’s “stunning”. Sigh. Allow me to rant for a moment on the current over-use of this word. STUNNING. I ask you. It’s bad enough that every. single. E-bay-seller seems to think that STUNNING is the definitive descriptive adjective, and that it must be included in all item titles. “Stunning wrap dress”, “Really stunning necklace”, “Stunning vintage skirt, gorgeous, L@@K”. Now I have to put up with it on book covers too. “Nominated for the Edgar Awards, the stunning first Jack Taylor novel.” Stunning. Did I fall over? Did I see stars? No I did not. Talk about a word being watered-down and losing its meaning and impact.

That said, it’s not terrible this. Jack Taylor is a former policeman and continous drunkard, who does a sort of P.I. thing, getting clients by word of mouth. A woman hires him to find out whether her daughter really committed suicide, and Jack discovers a form of conspiracy among the higher-ups, resulting in the genuine or forced suicides of young girls. I think. The precise nature of this conspiracy sort of eludes me now a month or so after finishing it, and frankly, the plot is not what I remember most about the novel. No, Bruen’s mellow yet pained story-telling, and his clipped but poetic language are much more memorable, not to mention a subtle tribute to both the new Ireland, with new ideas, new cultures and immigrants and less Church, and to the old Ireland, the old Galway, most notably its pubs. I’d recommend it, but with a warning – Bruen has this stylistic quirk, best descriped by my lack-of-sleep-addled brain by simply quoting examples:

She ignored this, sat on the bed. The room was cluttered with furry animals,

Pink bears

Pink frogs

Pink tigers

Leastways, I think that’s the colour. I wasn’t about to verify.

Malachy was like Sean Connery, minus

The tan

The golf.

You couldn’t call him a friend. Priests have other loyalties.

See what I mean? After a book of this my eye starts twitching, I swear. Fine, it’s certainly unique and memorable, but really.

Amy Tan: The Kitchen God’s Wife

A long time ago I read The Joy Luck Club and really liked it, but for some reason I never got around to reading more Amy Tan. However, the other day as I sat in the library working on job applications I just happened to be next to section T, and spotted the colourful covers out of the corner of my eye. So I plucked one and borrowed it (and made a mental note to some day read Quicksand by Tanisaki, but I got a deppresso-vibe off it so wasn’t in the mood that day).

The Kitchen God’s Wife is about Pearl’s mother Winnie, who has never told her daughter all the secrets about her former life, her Chinese life, when she was married to an abusive sadistic man. In classic Tan morality the secrets taint the relationship between mother and daughter and prevent them from understanding one another, so Pearl in turn has never told her mother about her MS diagnosis. However, other family members know and want mother and daughter to clear the air, so pressure is put on Winnie to come clean.

The greatest part of the book is therefore narrated by Winnie, who tells us about a life in a China that is now gone, about being the daughter of a rich man’s second wife, about being sent off to live with relatives, about being married off and discovering hell, about losing children and about war. I think Tan does a fabulous job of crossing that gap between Eastern and Western thinking – possibly it is her fellow Chinese-Americans who benefit the most from this, but her insights into a way of thinking and living that is very alien to us are educational to anyone. She is also a skilled storyteller and writer, plain and simple, and her books are easy and pleasant to read, despite the harrowing themes.

That said, I think her stories are too similar to stand up to binge reading, which is when you read everything an author has written that the library (or book shop, if you’re flush and have no shortage of shelf space) has available. (Note that I base this on having read two books only. So take it with a generous fistful of salt, I suppose.) I often binge read authors, but I don’t really recommend it. All the novels blur together, and you start getting annoyed with the author for “always writing the same thing”, which is ridiculous, because that is what a good writer does, writes about what he or she knows. Although Fay Weldon? She deserves the annoyance. Sorry. I’ve stayed annoyed with her for more that 15 years now.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Apparently the brain can only harbour a finite amount of information

I borrowed Clean Break by Val McDermid from the library, forgetting I'd already read it. And not realising until a chapter in. I read it before I started the blog (to remember what I've read), but I don't think it's an excuse.

However, today I impressed a Scottish fella on the bus by knowing where Fife is, thanks to Inspector Rebus. Don't let anyone tell you there is nothing to be learnt from crime fiction.