Thursday, September 30, 2010
Turns out I'd completely misremembered my flight timing! Not that it matters, since QF9 from Melbourne is currently delayed by at least an hour, if not more. (When I checked in online, it was forecasted to depart Melbourne three hours behind schedule!) Was initially resigned to having to pay £5 to amend my coach ticket, but by a stroke of good fortune, the Internet hotline only operates between 8 am and 8 pm. Otherwise, I'd have wasted good money because Qantas have bumped me to QF31, arriving from Sydney, an Airbus A380 flight no less, and you guessed it, departing at 11:59 pm, which was what I'd been remembering as my departure time all this while! I'm in the bassinet row, but I don't mind because the legroom's fantastic. Much better than my ordinary aisle seat on the Boeing 747 I was originally flying. All in all, pretty impressive customer service from Qantas. Wonder why the flight from Melbourne was so severely delayed though? By the way, I did finish that book by Andrew Gurr in the end, as well as Adam Zagajewski's most recent collection, Eternal Enemies: Poems. Enjoyed the latter greatly, the former was a painful but somewhat enlightening piece of background reading. Now if only I'd actually read any of the plays I wad advised to...
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
So Fox has gone and done it again. They've cancelled Lone Star, a critically acclaimed series that failed to gain a high enough viewership, presumably because the bulk of the American audience is stupid and won't watch a show that doesn't have an unrealistically attractive cast. (That said, it's not as if the cast members of Lone Star are hideous or anything. They're just not as perfect as say, any random person on a show from The CW.) The only good thing about this cancellation is that the premiere date of the new season of Lie To Me has been brought forward a month. To be honest, I didn't think Season 2 of that was all that great, so hopefully, Season 3 sees a return to form, or else it could end up a casualty of the 2010/11 fall season. Then Fox can just fill the slot with another reality TV programme. Perfect! Today's been fairly productive, by the way. I've issued acceptances/rejections to all the submissions in my inbox, and now have enough material to fill almost the whole month of October. Who knows? I might get enough by tomorrow to complete the month. Also finished reading the books I mentioned yesterday, so now I'm going to tackle the Zagajewski collections.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I'm getting really efficient at this packing business. Spent about an hour stuffing things into my suitcases, and I'm pretty much done. I could literally grab my passport and head off right now, if my flight were tonight anyway. Carrying way too much poetry back, but then again, I've always been hopelessly optimistic about how much I can read. Have finished Model Behavior, as well as Ng Yi-Sheng's novelisation of Kelvin Tong's iconic local film, Eating Air. The latter is actually part of a trio of novelisations that were published by Firstfruits in 2008, the other two being James Toh's rendition of Kelvin Tong's 12 Storeys (for which the two actually co-wrote the original screenplay) and Yeo Wei Wei's novelisation of Royston Tan's 4:30. My aim is to finish reading all three by Thursday, which should be achievable. It does mean I likely won't be able to finish those collections by Adam Zagajewski that I borrowed from the library weeks ago though. I never even finished that Andrew Gurr book I meant to before heading back to university! So much for trying to prepare for the new term, huh? On a related note, I'm thinking of applying to blog for The Shakespeare Standard because they're calling for new contributors and editors. Need to pitch them an idea though, so I'm thinking along the lines of something to do with my experiences of studying EN301 in the upcoming academic year, which is admittedly a bit vague, but better than no idea at all, right?
Monday, September 27, 2010
Have begun sending off acceptances and rejections. Well, so far there haven't been outright rejections of entire submissions, but there's definitely one coming up. I've also learnt that it's not a good idea to read submissions on my iPhone, as opening documents in it doesn't always preserve the formatting. Have been meaning to e-mail a contributor with a suggestion regarding stanzas, only to discover upon opening the document on my laptop that the stanza breaks were exactly where I was going to suggest them; the iPhone software just didn't register them. Silly, right? Spent a good hour trying to figure out how to get some of the more eccentric identations in one of the poems I'm publishing to show up in WordPress, and finally settled for inserting blank spaces in HTML using ' ' instead. Have managed to schedule posts for the first half of October, so that's a decent buffer in place. Will tweet once the pieces start running! The idea is to build up a certain number of posts, then apply to get listed on Duotrope's Digest, which should hopefully bring more exposure for the journal. Who knows, I might (finally) even post about it on Facebook.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
That's the latest iPhone game that I'm hooked on. It's quite meaningless in a way, since it just involves breeding fish and selling them, but it appeals greatly to my inner collector. I'm now breeding some of the exotic fishes for sale because they rake in lots of money. Anyway, just one more submission and I've promised myself I'll start going through them and issuing acceptances/rejections. Would've started tonight, except the most recent submission I got was a RAR file from some Chinese e-mail address, and it just really looked like spam. (Plus it wasn't even addressed to my literary journal to begin with.) Not sure how they found the e-mail though, thought I'd already managed to avoid the bots that scan for addresses by not typing it out in the standard format. Oh well! Haven't got quite as far through Model Behavior as I'd planned to, but that was only because I spent an hour watching the new episode of Merlin instead of reading. After all that drama in the first two episodes of the season, this one's pretty mundane. In other words, still waiting for Morgana to go beyond smirking at Merlin as a way of signifying that she's evil.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Finished reading Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero, which was actually a pretty depressing read. The characters truly raise apathy to an art form. What was most disturbing for me, however, was the fact that while part of me found their lifestyle appallingly meaningless, there was also a part of me that envied them and would be happy to lead a similar life of frivolity and excess. (Then again, wouldn't most people at least consider it, if given the chance?) I'm a bit of a cliché, aren't I? Not so much the drugs, I guess, but the trust funds. Yeah, definitely would like one of those. Am now reading Jay McInerney's Model Behaviour, which skewers New York City rather than Los Angeles. It's also a lot more light-hearted, so I'm going to breeze through it before I fly back on Thursday. Incidentally, in a weird little bit of cosmic synchronicity, I've just got my hands on the new Press Play album, which is titled NY2LA. Haven't had a chance to listen to it yet because I was doing PowerPoint graphics for my dad again, so I'll probably do that on the way to service tomorrow.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Just weighed the books that I want to bring back with me on this trip, and the total comes up to around 12 kg. Could probably prune it down a little, get it to 10 kg instead. Wouldn't matter if I don't have a lot of clothes to bring back though, and then there's still another 7 kg that I'm entitled to as carry-on. Not to mention that I can stuff a lot of books into my laptop bag as well, which nobody other than the Emirates counter staff has ever asked to weigh. Most of the books I'm taking with me are poetry, and I'm not even sure how I'm justifying it to myself, beyond the fact that it's almost entirely Singaporean poetry, which I can't find over in the UK. If I do end up flying back in December like I plan to, I'm going to be bringing home my Murakami books, so I suppose what I'm taking over this time can occupy the vacated space instead! Anyway, my review of FRiGG Issue 29 is now up here, and I think you should check it out. (Both the review and the magazine itself, naturally.) Just one more review to write before I head back to the UK!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Almost done with the review I need to write for Sabotage Reviews. Was initially going to be quite critical of this issue's fiction section, a position I would've backed up of course, but having re-read it, I've modified my position, including comments on both stories that I liked and disliked. Just need to finish a paragraph or two on the poetry section, which I generally found easier to enjoy anyway. As for my own literary journal, I've finally received a submission that I can say no to immediately, which has also brought home what my university tutors have said about clanging bad rhymes. I've posted calls for submissions on Craigslist, which might get some attention. Annoyingly, posting to the American or Canadian listings requires telephone verification using an American or Canadian number, so I've had to make do with posting to those of other English-speaking countries instead. Anyway, I've been listening to new albums from M. Pokora (Mise À Jour) and Maroon 5 (Hands All Over). The former is actually really generic pop, and not particularly spectacular either. It's In French though, so it's at least half a step above the gutter. Haha! Maroon 5, on the other hand, have turned out their best pop album yet, thanks in part, I'm sure, to their collaboration with producer Mutt Lange, whose production is a refreshing change from the likes of RedOne. I like RedOne's stuff, but his sound is way too pervasive in pop right now.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Mum's finally back from hospital and I got a pair of sunglasses made. Not the pair that I was originally eyeing, but only because I couldn't have got prescription lenses with that frame. (My dad insisted it would've been silly not to get prescription lenses, even though my myopia is hardly at a debilitating level.) Probably going to collect it over the weekend. Managed to make time today to watch the pilot episode of Lone Star and can totally see why critics have praised it whilst audiences have shunned it, to the extent that rumours are already swirling that it's going to be cancelled after just one episode. Wouldn't surprise me if that actually happened, since the show's airing on Fox, a network notoriously incapable of giving shows a chance. To be fair to Lone Star, its premise is pretty different from the usual network TV formulae, and it really might've been a better fit with cable backing, like AMC or HBO, or even FX. Oh well. We'll see soon enough. Or not, as the case may be. Also stayed up last night to finally watch Exam, which I thought to be a particularly impressive directorial debut. I liked that it had a tinge of science fiction, but that this was kept firmly in the background, allowing the psychological drama to unfold as the candidates turned against each other. Definitely should've caught this on the big screen at Warwick Student Cinema last term when it was screening!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
No new submissions today, despite trying to get the word out through Twitter. Hoping that'll change over the next few days. The site is getting views, but so far, this hasn't translated into submission numbers. Anyway, Tuesdays look set to be busy for me in the immediate future. Along with Gossip Girl, which premiered last week, I've got Hawaii Five-0, House, Lone Star and The Event. The last on the list feels like a cross between 24 and Lost. The pilot took a bit of effort to follow because it also makes use of flashbacks, but I think on the whole, the series seems quite promising. We'll see if it lasts longer than the last attempt at creating the next Lost, i.e. the short-lived FlashForward. Gossip Girl's latest season continues to impress, and it really feels like a fresh start in some ways, despite the character dynamics having largely stabilised by now. I guess a lot of it has to do with the absence of Jenny and her petty scheming, so patently inferior to Blair and Chuck's machinations that they make Jenny laughable. Juliet's character is getting fleshed out more, although her pairing with Nate still comes across as overly stiff and contrived, so hopefully that improves over the course of the next couple of episodes. As for House, well, let's just say I'm definitely a Huddy fan!
Monday, September 20, 2010
Number of submissions has doubled since yesterday, but I suppose Shirley's right, I should probably give it at least two weeks before making any firm decisions. Might be a bit of a problem because I kind of wanted to start scheduling daily posts from October onwards, but if the number of suitable pieces isn't there, it can't be helped, I guess. I'm thinking I'll start making decisions about acceptances once I have 10 submissions, which will ideally be sometime this week! Quite excited by the most recent submission at least. Would be more than happy to feature more work from this particular poet in future, and will probably say so in my reply to him. The easy way would be to go soliciting submissions from my coursemates, but part of me is reluctant to do so, at least not to start off with anyway. I definitely want to feature their work in future, but to make use of my personal relationships to build an initial pool of submissions, and by extension, readers, feels like taking the easy way out. Have decided to start off by casting the net among Singaporean friends who've been involved with creative writing in the past, in the hope that through them, I can reach more, well, strangers. Will find out soon enough if that's going to work!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Mum's foot operation went smoothly, thank God. Submissions have begun trickling in for the journal. Two, to be exact. I have an idea of which poems I want to include, but I'm kind of hoping for more submissions to come in first before making a firm decision and sending a reply, just to have a wider selection of poems to compare against each other. Being a first-time editor is harder for me than I thought it would be. I'm still at the I love/hate-this-but-cannot-say-why-for-sure stage. I'll tell you what really gets me though, despite occasionally being guilty of it as a poet. Pointless enjambment. You know, like when there's just one word at the end of a line and the rest of the phrase it belongs to is on the next, and that single word in isolation doesn't carry sufficient weight, like 'I' or 'The' or 'Of'. Basically, anything that could just as easily have gone at the start of the next line without sacrificing meaning. Call it a pet peeve of mine. Such a small decision, where to put a line break, and it's completely keeping me from giving a definite nod to my current batch of submissions. Sigh...
Saturday, September 18, 2010
My mum had a fall and she's been warded, waiting for surgery on her foot tomorrow. Happened in the kitchen while I was in the hall, working on my literary journal. Yeah, I did it. Set up the WordPress site for Eunoia Review, submission guidelines found here. Also set up an advertising campaign using that free Google AdWords voucher, so we'll see if that actually brings in any traffic (and submissions). Don't really want to advertise this on Facebook yet because I'm a bit shy about the whole business of starting up something like this. I really mean to stick with it for the long term though. What I need is a solid crop of submissions, which I can schedule like about a month or two in advance. I figure if I want to run it as a site posting one new piece per day, that's the very minimum. Don't want to do issues at the moment because I'm not ready to add the workload of creating PDFs or coding self-contained issues. The site is pretty basic at the moment, but I like the uncluttered aesthetic of the current template anyway. I also forced myself to start and finish that review of Pomegranate I've been putting off writing since the end of July. Need to get into the habit of it anyway, especially if the pace begins to pick up, combined with working to stay on track for a First this year. Two more to go on the current to-do list...
Friday, September 17, 2010
Have offered to start doing reviews for Sabotage Reviews, along the lines of what I'm doing for the new Incwriters magazine listings, and sent in an application to review books for The Cadaverine, just like what I'm already doing for Evolve Journal. If I get that as well, I'm possibly looking at producing on average a review of 500-1000 words each week. (Knowing my luck, the deadlines'll probably clash rather than space themselves out nicely over the whole month. Looks like I'll be doing plenty of writing outside of coursework as well. Oh, the self-inflicted pressure! I'm not even sure why I'm getting so involved with this whole reviewing business, aside from that it allows me to read loads of stuff I would otherwise not come across. It isn't even ego. I'm honestly quite terrified that my reviews will come across as superficial, despite knowing full well that I'm capable of good, analytical writing. The usual nagging twinge of insecurity? As a random aside, the title of 2AM Club's debut album, What Did You Think Was Going To Happen?, is surely an attempt at irony, as it doesn't quite live up to the hype generated by their appearance on Pretty Little Liars, where they performed 'Worry About You'. I mean, the songs are mostly catchy, but nothing really stands out in the end. The same could be said about E.M.D., this Swedish boyband that I just discovered, whose album A State Of Mind mostly plays it safe, but then again, that country seems culturally incapable of producing alienating pop music. One last thing. Can I just say how smoking hot the new Maroon 5 video for 'Give A Little More' is, especially given how little skin is actually bared in it?
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tonight was my first time catching a professional production on opening night, I think. It was honestly only noteworthy because Shirley and I were sitting in front of Adrian and Tracie Pang, the latter being the director for this production of David Harrower's Blackbird. Daniel Jenkins and Emma Yong were brilliant, which should come as no surprise. It's tempting to compare the former's performance as Ray, in particular, with his turn as Katurian in The Pillowman, as the emotional range demanded by both roles overlaps significantly. Indeed, it seems not unfair to compare the two productions as a whole, since they were both staged by SRT. I personally feel that The Pillowman presented characters that were easier to empathise with, however monstrous their behaviour, as despite being urged in the programme booklet to view the plot of Blackbird as being fundamentally about a love story gone horribly wrong, it is almost impossible to escape the predatory overtones of Nabokov's Humbert Humbert and Lolita in the relationship between Ray and Una. That said, the controversial nature of their relationship is complicated by our awareness that it was, to some extent, consensual. The question then becomes one of whether a 12-year-old girl, however adult her desires appear to be, can be said to be qualified to give consent. The one thing that did annoy me slightly about the production was how both characters tended to repeat words mid-sentence. I'm sure it's part of how the dialogue was written, and it was effective in conveying things like agitation, but it was really quite distracting initially.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Have been thinking a little about MA applications, being a finalist and all, and I've narrowed it down to three universities each on both sides of the Atlantic: Cambridge, Durham and Warwick, and Columbia, Dartmouth and Yale. Yeah, I know. That shortlist is freakishly ambitious. I might cut Cambridge and Yale eventually, as I don't think I can come up with the 500-word proposal for my dissertation by December that Cambridge requires (because I have little idea of what I would like to do research on) and Yale only admits a few people each year who want to pursue a terminal MA rather than the PhD, so why waste the application fees? This means I'll have to take the GRE at some point in October or November. All of the places I've picked have something going for them in my book, so it's a bit tough to make a choice. The easy way out, of course, would be to apply to Warwick. I'm already there, so it should be pretty straightforward in terms of applying, plus I wouldn't have to do a dissertation if I didn't want to, which isn't an option at any of my other choices. This would be so much easier if I cared deeply enough about something really typical, like gender studies or postcolonial literature, wouldn't it?
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The season finale of Lie To Me was pretty low-key, although the plot developments make it a game-changer for next season, which is premiering in November, so I haven't got long to wait for it. The Gossip Girl premiere, on the other hand, was brilliant. Didn't think Katie Cassidy got enough exposure in the episode, but she's supposed to be sticking around for at least the first half of the season, which is great news to me. Loved her character on the Melrose Place reboot, so I'm hoping some of the snark from that's been carried over to her Gossip Girl role. Although there wasn't a lot of high drama per se in the episode, apart from another Blair-Serena mini-catfight (kittenfight?), it set up enough in terms of storylines to suggest that this is going to be quite a delicious season. Randomly, I've just received a $75 voucher from Google AdWords and I'm wondering what I should do with it. I mean, $75 to drive traffic somewhere, no strings attached. So I had this crazy idea. Why not set up an online literary journal? All it takes to get started at the very minimum is an account with Blogger or WordPress, and I've seen some journals with pretty spartan designs anyway. Then use the voucher to get potential submitters, and take it from there. Sound like a plan?
Monday, September 13, 2010
Met up with Caleb and Jina for lunch at AMK Hub and discovered that the Thai laksa at Sticky Rice is actually not bad. A bit sweeter than what I'm used to, but that might be due to the seafood anyway, and it was actually quite nice. Then I went down to the Challenger outlet at Sembawang Shopping Centre to redeem my $20 voucher, where the staff members I encountered for some reason all spoke to each other in Cantonese and also weren't very sure how to process my redemption. Goodness. On the way out of the shopping centre, I was accosted by someone conducting a mall intercept survey. When he asked me for my age, he expressed surprise at my answer and claimed he was even going to check if I was over 15. He later said he'd figured me for 17, 18 at the most. That's a full half a decade younger than my actual age, which even I find a bit ridiculous! Well, at least it suggests that my goal of aging well isn't going to be a problem in time to come. Haven't finished with Men In Space yet, but am already more than a couple of pages into another novel, Paul Golding's The Abomination. Am also reconsidering bringing so many books over on this flight, so that means I'll probably change my mind on the matter, oh, only another half a dozen times before the end of the month!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Merlin is back! Morgana as the good-girl-gone-bad is actually a bit boring, to be honest. Now her character feels a bit one-dimensional. Oh well. We might finally be headed for the Arthur-becomes-king storyline, although all I'm really waiting for is for Merlin to reveal to him that he has magical powers. For the past couple of days, 3OH!3's latest album, Streets Of Gold, has been my guilty musical pleasure. You know what I'm talking about. You know you shouldn't like it, but it's just too catchy not to. I mean, I can listen to the entire album twice in a row, every single track, without getting sick of it. That's how catchy I think it is. Men In Space is turning out to be not quite as appealing as Remainder was, largely because I'm not impressed so far by its deliberately fragmentary structuring. His new novel, C, is already winning accolades though, and it sounds like it's got more in common with Remainder than Men In Space (which honestly feels like a sophomore slump to me), so I'll probably find a way to get hold of a copy when I get back to the UK. Oh, and so far, the Internet problems are staying gone. I've been unable to load Bejeweled Blitz for a week though, which is a little annoying.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Just got back from the first event organised by Rafflesians Unite. Free dinner! Was particularly impressed by the prawns. Man, they were huge! I'm definitely getting fat though, so I didn't eat a lot. Time to diet when I get back to the UK, although my inherent laziness when it comes to making meals will essentially guarantee that I eat less anyway. Incidentally, the SingTel mio people came and went, and for now, it seems like my Internet is finally fixed. I say 'seems' because that's exactly what I thought the last time one of their technicians came by. We'll see how my downloads turn out over the next couple of days. Over the past three days, I also managed to finish reading all three of the humour books: Ant Farms And Other Desperate Situations by Simon Rich, The Internet Is A Playground by David Thorne, and Urban Animals: A Comic Field Guide by Mireille Silcoff, with illustrations by Kagan McLeod. They were all reasonably enjoyable, although Rich's book was at times uninspired, and Thorne's trolling, while wickedly funny most of the time, also begged the question of why someone would bother to bait other people like that. Silcoff's book was the most palatable on the whole, aided by McLeod's spot-on illustrations of contemporary urban archetypal characters, largely because I think the humour in this book, out of all three, was the only one that wasn't mean-spirited, even just a little. Now it's back to Tom McCarthy's Men In Space...
Friday, September 10, 2010
So network TV's fall scheduling kicks off early with two new offerings from The CW. Hellcats was a bit of a yawn, and it's already being blasted for being Glee-via-cheerleading. Just not as good. I really wanted to like the show, but it's not a good sign if you honestly don't care about the lead character's fortunes by the end of the pilot. Ratings for Hellcats were apparently decent though, doing marginally better than America's Next Top Model, which was its lead-in. Still, I don't see this one lasting beyond one season unless it picks up the pace really soon. I mean, the reboot of Melrose Place and the ill-fated The Beautiful Life had more drama, and look where they ended up. The other new kid on the block is actually anything but. Nikita is a reboot of last decade's La Femme Nikita, which itself draws from Luc Besson's 1990 French film, Nikita, and its 1993 American remake, Point Of No Return. The new TV series seems pretty decent, setting up enough potential drama in the pilot to give this series a shot at finding a foothold among all the other new stuff coming out this year. (Plus the showrunners are clearly not afraid to exploit Maggie Q's attractiveness.) Whether this series can become the new Alias remains to be seen, even if I do think that position has already been taken by the brilliant Covert Affairs. Also, returning this year is The Vampire Diaries, arguably The CW's runaway success of last year. The season premiere totally proves why, enough said.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Bought a screen protector from Challenger today and got ripped off. It's useless! I was trying to smooth out some small air bubbles, but the screen protector ended up wrinkling, rendering it useless. Am going to follow Audrey down to Bugis next Tuesday and get another one from the shop she buys from instead. (At least I've got enough points to redeem a $20 Challenger voucher. Now all I have to do is collect it.) She's finally got the iPhone she's been hankering after, although she had to switch from SingTel to M1 because the iPhone 4 was out of stock in the SingTel shops she went to. (So why did the M1 shop still have stock? Your guess is as good as mine. Suffice it to say that my impression of SingTel just keeps going down.) Also managed to pay for the books I ordered from Ethos Books, so that's taken care of now. Also borrowed a bunch of humour books, against my better judgement. I figure that they're pretty short, so I should be able to finish them in a few days. Who knows? I might even finish one tonight. On a related note, BooksActually is having a 20% sale tomorrow, but I just don't feel justified in buying anymore books, especially not after having ordered so many local works online, which are what I normally get at BooksActually anyway. Hopefully, my transport reimbursement will be processed quickly and I'll get an additional smidge of money to spend while I'm in Singapore!
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Spent more than $300 on books today at Kinokuniya. Bulk of it was on Vintage Contemporary and Vintage International editions, comprising books by Charles Baxter and Jay McInerney, among others. Tentatively, it's McInerney's and Bret Easton Ellis's novels that I'm bringing over this time, although I might change my mind again nearer to my flight. Also bought some local literature again, from Ethos Books, and I've just been to the Firstfruits website and ordered a whole stack of stuff too. Paid for the Firstfruits stuff using my NatWest account, since Firstfruits takes payments via PayPal. (I'm also running low on Singaporean dollars! See first sentence of post.) Tried to order something from Ethos's website too, but something went wrong when I tried to pay using my NatWest account. To be exact, I was told someone would be in touch soon, and this was after I'd already submitted my card details. I've checked though, and the transaction hasn't gone through, so perhaps they think I'm an overseas customer, even though I'm posting the order to a local address. Oh well. I wouldn't even bother ordering local books online, except I was trying to get copies of Alvin Pang's two poetry collections, and he's one of the local poets I admire. Anyway, I'm thinking if I should bring over local fiction and not just poetry on this flight...
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
A lot less people at the feedback session than I'd expected, and I already wasn't expecting that many. It was good though, plus now I've finally met my scholarship officer in person! Had lunch at Spice Peranakan before that, where the waitress was very grumpy towards us, for no reason that we could figure out. Anyway, I've just finished Remainder and without giving away too much of the ending, I'll say it's low-key, but intellectually satisfying in the way that the novel truly remains fixated on the notion of repetition right till the end. Literally. (You'll understand what I mean once you've read it.) It's an impressive display of resistance and defiance in the face of the average reader's instinctive demand for closure, essentially a slap in the face of conventional Hollywood narratives where the good guys win and the bad guys get punished. (Remainder doesn't have either anyway. Just the narrator-enactor, enablers and reenactors.) It's definitely a thought-provoking novel for me, in the way that House Of Leaves is. By the way, before I went to bed last night, I think I might've been indirectly paid the best literary compliment I've ever received to date. Let's just say it's thrown up another factor to consider when choosing between America and England for my MA.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Am approaching the end of Remainder, and I'm really keen to find out how it all ends. I'm anticipating a pretty devastating conclusion, or at least something bleak. I will say though, it's hard to root for the protagonist of the novel, if that's even an appropriate term for his character. While his obsession with reenactments does draw the reader in (and this is largely a function of McCarthy's engaging prose style), the manner in which he pursues his hobby-turned-obsession is distinctly unpleasant, at least to me. I suppose what bothers me is that what facilitates his pursuit is essentially his £8.5 billion, and it's the idea that money can buy anything that rankles. On another level though, the novel addresses the question of authenticity, which I actually think is handled very interestingly because of the way in which the narrator's attempts to recapture what he perceives as a natural way of being escalate. Zadie Smith's analysis of Remainder is extremely illuminating, and it's what made me want to read the novel in the first place. You can check it out here.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Parents wanted to buy mooncakes from Fairmont Singapore for my paternal grandmother, so I persuaded them to have dinner at Brotzeit in Raffles City. I think the pork knuckles at the VivoCity outlet are better though. The meat was tenderer there! Had a listen to The Saturdays' new mini-album, Headlines!, on the way home from my grandmother's, and it's pretty disappointing as far as pop goes. Lead single 'Missing You' was a strange choice, although the second single, 'Higher', is only marginally better. The problem with The Saturdays is that they don't seem to be able to manufacture the kind of pop anthems that they had on their debut album, Chasing Lights. (That title track, by the way, should totally have been released as a single.) They came close on several occasions with the stuff on Wordshaker, all of which reappear in Headlines! except for my personal favourite, 'Open Up', but it all feels very perfunctory, like it's halfheartedly ticking the boxes. This is definitely one group that hasn't progressed since their debut, which is kind of sad, since the girls actually manage to sound decent even when they do acoustic sets, stripped of the bells and whistles of studio production. It's disappointing, to say the least. In other news, The Cadaverine is looking for book reviewers and I'm thinking of applying. I mean, the worst that could happen is that my application gets rejected, so why not?
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Just went online to apply for travel authorisation under the American Visa Waver Program because from next Wednesday onwards, it's going to cost US$14 for an application that is typically approved instantaneously. (Yes, charging for this totally makes sense to me too, and if it doesn't to you, maybe they don't want your kind at the 'Party In The USA'. Haha!) I don't have firm plans to holiday in America at the moment, but since the authorisation is valid for two years or until expiry of passport (whichever is sooner), there's no harm in getting it done while it's still free! Anyway, I'm a little sunburnt from our cell's kite flying session today. Hadn't expected it to be quite so bad, since there didn't particularly seem to be a lot of sun. Hopefully, it'll fade into a more decent tan over the next couple of days. Incidentally, today was the first time I've flown a kite. (In some ways, I suppose my childhood was deprived.) Was introduced to this place today as well, Once Upon A Milkshake. It's pretty cool, reminds me of Cow Milkshake Bar back in Leamington. Not too keen on the cutesy names they give their flavours, but otherwise, it seems like a great place to grab a milkshake and just chill out for a couple of minutes.
Friday, September 03, 2010
So it seems like I've kind of given up on Gurr's book for now and gone back to Tom McCarthy's Remainder instead. So far, it's proving even more readable than I'd hoped, and yes, it still reminds me of Ishiguro's When We Were Orphans. It's more to do with the atmosphere the two novels evoke. Still have McCarthy's Men In Space to get through after Remainder. Have the feeling that I won't get through as many books while I'm in Singapore as I would like! Am probably buying more tomorrow though! Jay McInerney's stuff, as Kinokuniya stocks the American Vintage Contemporaries editions. Would've ended up buying the Bloomsbury paperbacks from the UK if I hadn't realised this. Seems a bit silly to bother about things like this, but I just like my books to look good together on the shelves. Nothing really wrong with that, right? Anyway, Lionel Shriver's written an article for the Guardian complaining about covers for female authors that might prove interesting. You can find it here. She makes some valid points, but methinks the lady doth protest too much.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Have spent the better part of the evening trying to free up space on my laptop, as I suspect there are a lot of orphaned files that are hogging disk space. Lo and behold, it was in fact things like a backup of my iPhone that I don't necessarily need because I almost never sync my iPhone with iTunes to begin with. That alone took up 2 GB of the drive. I'm pretty sure there should be a way to tweak the backup settings so that the file is smaller, but since I don't normally sync my iPhone with iTunes anyway, I'm not going to bother for now. Now I'm defragmenting the hard drives, hoping to recover a little bit more space. Maybe it's just time to get a new, faster laptop? Allowance has come in, and it seems that it's meant for nine months this time, rather than a whole year. I suppose it makes sense, seeing as we're expected to enter NIE right after graduation, where we'll begin drawing a different level of pay anyway. Just got a bunch of discount codes on Contiki tours, up to 50% off, but I can't go on any of them because they either start too early or too late in September, so I can't fly back in time or term will have begun. What a waste! If anyone in the UK wants to use them, let me know. It's just a code you use when you book, so it should work for anybody.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Didn't do any reading today, but I sure watched a lot of TV. New episodes of Warehouse 13, Covert Affairs and the series finale of BBC's The Deep. I thought the ending of that last one was pretty much crap, by the way. Covert Affairs continues to be brilliant, unsurprisingly, although I don't think I can really see Piper Perabo and Sendhil Ramamurthy's characters dating. I'd much rather see her end up with Christopher Gorham because I think they have better on-screen chemistry. Anyway, I just got off Skype with my Evolve Journal editor, who wanted to have a quick chat about the journal. I'm generally quite rubbish at carrying on actual conversations as opposed to sending SMSes, partly because you can't edit a conversation while it's happening, and I have these idealised notions of what a conversation I'm having should sound like, but it never quite works out like the dialogue in a novel. (That sounds incredibly stupid/weird, right?) So we chatted for about 20 minutes, and my editor seems like a nice enough guy. If anything, he was almost as awkward as I was over Skype. Haha!