Saturday, December 31, 2011
It may be the holidays, but I'm pleased to report that Eunoia Review has chalked up a new monthly high for site visits, surpassing the old record that was only set last month! It's also more than four times the numbers we were getting for the same period in the journal's first year of existence. I think it might be asking for too much to hope for a similar quadrupling by December 2012. Haha! Mostly I'm just glad that the readers have stuck with us. Was fully expecting a slight dip in viewership, what with all the Christmas and New Year's carousing I'm sure people are getting up to, even those who read literary journals. Maybe this month just happned to have more contributors whose posts have greater virality, as Facebook Insights would put it. (Pretty sure the piece published at noon today is an example of this phenomenon.) I think getting people to share the work being published more often is going to be an important part of growing the journal's audience in 2012, and I'm going to look into ways of doing that. I'm considering just extending an open invitation via Facebook and Twitter, asking if anyone wants to come onboard as a sort of publicity coordinator. Perhaps in 2012, it's time for Eunoia Review to become more than a one-man operation?
Friday, December 30, 2011
Met up with Shirley at BooksActually to collect the books she bought on my behalf, as well as have a chat with Kenny and, of course, buy some more stuff. Picked up some pamphlets and zines that I'm guessing were showcased at the zine fair earlier this year, including a pamphlet that I'm pretty sure is by the same Samantha Toh that I went to CAP with, way back in 2002. So it's a fairly hefty haul I've brought home this time, although that's really par for the course when I visit BooksActually. I'm thinking that if Kenny agrees to it, I'm going to propose a three-part review of the Babette's Feast series for Sabotage Reviews, divided according to the batches the pamphlets came out in. I know he's in touch with Cui Yin at Woolfson & Tay, an independent bookstore in Bermondsey, so there's a chance that anyone in the UK reading the reviews could eventually pick up copies of the pamphlets too. It does feel like a massive undertaking though, and I should probably clear at least one or two of the reviews I owe Claire of the pamphlets from The Knives Forks & Spoons Press. Have also requested a review copy of the book version of the I Wrote This For You blog, which I'm going to pitch to Scott at The Cadaverine. All in all, it looks like I've got a lot of reading to do, none of which actually even has any bearing on my academic work! Not that I'm complaining though, just have to start being more conscientious about not procrastinating and wasting time from now on...
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Finished Issue 9 of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern before checking out of the hotel, so I managed to finish both the magazines I brought along on this short trip. (Lucky Peach Issue 2 was pretty delicious, some interesting dessert recipes in there!) Started reading Steven Amsterdam's Things We Didn't See Coming, which is an interesting take on dystopian fiction. The first chapter is set on New Year's Eve 1999, and it's implied that in the novel's timeline, the Millennium Bug was the catalyst for plunging civilisation into chaos. The time jumps so far have been slightly confusing, but if you just go with it, the world Amsterdam's created is a disconcerting mixture of familiarity and alienation. Also caught up with the premiere of The Noose Season 5 this afternoon, after getting back from the airport. It never ceases to amaze me how that show gets away with poking fun at Mediacorp and Channel NewsAsia. It's got to the point where The Noose is naming and shaming fellow Mediacorp shows, like Point Of Entry. So hilariously bad, you can't look away. That also pretty much describes DOA: Dead On Arrival, which is currently airing as tonight's Channel 5 movie special. So many plot holes and so much bad CGI!
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Finished reading Sum: Forty Tales From The Afterlives by David Eagleman, one of my discoveries at MPH yesterday. It's an interesting collection of flash fiction, reminiscent of Borges in its philosophical bent, and playfully imagining possible versions of the afterlife, occasionally accompanied by speculations as to the nature of the presiding God. What's especially interesting to me is that Eagleman majored in British and American literature as an undergraduate, before going on to become a neuroscientist. That kind of cross-pollination isn't unheard of (David Morley immediately comes to mind), but it's pretty counterintuitive to anyone who's been educated in Singapore, where the separation between arts and sciences is still pretty rigid. Spent an hour or so this afternoon scheduling submissions on my dad's laptop, a tricky affair because the WordPress page kept going crazy in the old version of IE installed on the laptop. Got them all done though, so the journal's all set till the end of March. Tomorrow it's back to Singapore, when I might finally be able to start on my essay on Christian Bök's Eunoia. I'm kind of starting to think that my essay title is too precise and therefore restrictive, but I suppose I could still make it work. Just need to think more deeply about the structure of this long poem. Annoyingly, Marjorie Perloff has done a succinct yet illuminating close reading of it in a chapter in Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy, so I'm going to have to work hard to avoid merely parroting it. (Also, we randomly met Khaw Boon Wan at the hotel today!)
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Turns out that the hotel has complimentary broadband access in its rooms and free WiFi in the lobby, which is just as well since I couldn't figure out how to make my dad's laptop into a hotspot. Just had Penang char kway teow for dinner at Gurney Drive and kind of think it wasn't that much different than what's sold in the Northpoint food court. (Incidentally, that's one of only two places I know of that sell Penang char kway teow in Singapore, the other being a stall in the food court at Tiong Bahru Plaza.) Had lunch at A&W in Plaza Gurney, which I haven't eaten since all the Singaporean outlets were shuttered. Bought a bunch of books in MPH too. Nothing I was actively looking for (didn't even know Orhan Pamuk had a new book out), just stuff I happened to find while browsing the shelves. Would've bought more, but it's hard to justify buying UK paperbacks anywhere else other than Amazon UK, so all I got were Random House paperbacks, from the Anchor and Vintage imprints. Then we all went to see Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows. I've never actually seen the first film, so I've no prior frame of reference, but I thought it was really good. I think the BBC TV adaptation still comes out slightly ahead, so I'm excited that the new series of that is finally premiering next year!
Monday, December 26, 2011
Watched the Terra Nova season finale before heading to the airport. It's actually pretty good, on par with the pilot. The feel-good factor actually makes sense in the two-part finale, rather than being something that looks like it's there just to make the show more family-friendly. I think the problem's always been that Terra Nova was a two-hour movie trying to be a 13-episode TV show, hence why everything in between pilot and finale has largely felt like filler, right down to the glaring lack of dinosaurs. I was originally rooting for it to be cancelled, but after seeing the finale, I feel like I want it to get a second season. Kind of like when I saw 'Epitaph One', the coda to Dollhouse Season 1 that only appeared on the DVD release (and SingTel mioTV), except that show deserved a second season anyway. So okay, Terra Nova, you've changed my mind about you. Now Fox executives, just make up your mind about the show already! (Ditto for whether or not this is the final season of House.) Anyway, I'm probably not going to have Internet access while I'm in Penang, unless the hotel has WiFi, which will make answering submissions difficult. Could use my Vodafone SIM card, since the data roaming cost on that is significantly lower than for SingTel, weirdly enough.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Given how wet it's been the past week, Christmas was surprisingly dry. Windy, to be sure, with the threat of a downpour constantly in the air, but not much actual rain. (On a related note, I was mildly amused by the flooding in Orchard Road this year. Oh, sorry, I mean the 'ponding', as Singaporeans have been informed by the relevant authorities.) Saw Dick Lee twice in VivoCity, once on the way out after dinner at Bosses Restaurant, once around the GV cinema on the way to the carpark. In the flesh, he looks, well, nondescript. Didn't even notice him in the restaurant until my mum pointed him out! As for the food at the restaurant, I wasn't terribly impressed for the most part. Chief complaint? Every dish was too salty, to the point where the flavour profiles began to run together. The salted egg yolk pau with a molten filling for dessert was an interesting touch though. Speaking of food, my second issue of Lucky Peach finally arrived yesterday, so I've been reading that. This issue is all about 'the sweet spot', in all its incarnations, which makes for a wonderfully eclectic selection of writing. Favourite so far is Adam Leith Gollner's on apricots. They've never exactly been my favourite fruit, but maybe that's because all I've had before are what's available in the supermarket.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Just discovered Flipboard today, and I'm a bit obsessed with it now. Went on a following spree in Google Reader and Tumblr right after I downloaded it onto my iPhone. If you don't know what it is, it's an application that pulls your social media streams together and displays them in a magazine format (it was originally developed for the larger screen of the iPad). You can also add Flipboard-curated aggregated feeds, feeds of popular websites designed for Flipboard, or add a basic feed manually if the website hasn't developed one specially for Flipboard yet. The concept must be popular, as Google has released its own version of the concept called Google Currents. What I find cool about Flipboard is how do many sources of information are pulled together in a very clean interface that still proves pleasing to operate even on the reduced screen estate of the iPhone. I will say that discovering an application like Flipboard has done more to persuade me that I should shell out money for an iPad of my own than even watching China Miéville using his in our EN236 seminars! I'll have to work out my budget for 2012 to be sure if I can spare the expense, but I think I should be able to.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Randomly decided to pick up Max Barry's Company to read. I read his earlier novel Jennifer Government a couple of years ago, and Company is also a work of corporate satire, but at the level of a single holding company, rather than global capitalism run amok. It actually really reminds me of Better Off Ted, that criminally underwatched comedy that was cancelled too soon. Barry also had a new novel out in August that I wasn't aware of previously, Machine Man, a science fiction novel this time. Going to have to wait till I'm back in the UK to order it from Amazon UK, as the price on The Book Depository is higher. Also going to pick up his debut novel Syrup, when he was still going by Maxx Barry. (Incidentally, a contributor to The Cadaverine once expressed concern that if he used his actual name, he risked being mistaken for the Australian novelist.) In other news, Eunoia Review marks another milestone in welcoming its 300th contributor! The last couple of contributors have been interesting too, including two Macedonian writers, one of whom sent in a science fiction piece that wouldn't have been out of place in something by an author on Gollancz's list.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Opened the newspapers today to read that PageOne is closing its Singapore outlet in February. Another mega bookstore bites the dust! Kind of ironic, since the homegrown company's business is thriving in the region. Shame, I'd just been there yesterday and bought two Ted Dekker books. To be fair though, I only bought them because they were international edition paperbacks that I wouldn't have been able to buy from the Amazon UK website. Having looked at the prices on other books, I was once again reminded at how expensive books are in Singapore. I'm not even talking about taking into account Amazon's discounts. Even going by the RRP, book prices here just don't make sense, given what the exchange rate with the pound's been in recent years. I doubt the differential can be attributed entirely to shipping costs, since surely there are economies of scale to be exploited. I wouldn't mind paying a bit more at an independent bookstore like BooksActually, but at a chain bookstore, I don't see why I'm paying what I perceive as a marked up price. Thankfully, there's still The Book Depository and its global free shipping. Its prices vis-à-vis Amazon UK are no longer competitive apart from American paperbacks, but if the exchange rate with the pound stays roughly the same, I don't think Kinokuniya is going to get much business from me even when I'm back in Singapore for good.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Caught Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol with Ben Woon and found it surprisingly good. Usual suspension of disbelief required for a viewer to buy the plot, of course, but otherwise, I could've been watching an extended episode of Covert Affairs, right down to the multinational filming. I say that because for the latest instalment in an action franchise, there was a liberal amount of humour sprinkled throughout, mostly provided by Simon Pegg's character. Not entirely convinced that this film is going to rejuvenate Tom Cruise's career (even if he did lose his shirt in typical Hollywood hunk fashion), but as a semi-reboot of the franchise, I think it does the job. The new agents in the team, played by Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner, were a mixed bunch. Renner's character provided an interesting counterpoint to Cruise's, but Patton ended up seeing like the token female agent. Also, am I the only one who thinks Josh Holloway's agent shouldn't have been killed off in the first five minutes? Seemed like a waste of the character to me. Refreshingly though, the film was devoid of romantic entanglements, although if there's another film in the franchise, I'm betting Patton and Renner's characters will be the go-to couple.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Finished reading Ted Dekker's Green today, which functions as both the end and the beginning of the Circle series, themselves part of the larger The Books of History Chronicles. I'd read the original trilogy a couple of years ago and loved it, and although I agree with some critics who say this book is comparatively weaker, I don't think it detracts from the overall audacity of Dekker's allegorical project. Of course, it's only possible to divine the allegory if one possesses a certain familiarity with the Bible, particularly the New Testament. Not that the references are necessarily all obvious. My favourite was actually a reference in Green to 1 Corinthians 13:12, perhaps more famously known via the title of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly. As an allegorical fantasy, the Circle series is more The Chronicles Of Narnia than The Lord Of The Rings, with a healthy dose of contemporary thriller infused. It's definitely readable, although the religious overtones will definitely rankle for the more militantly atheistic. The full series consists of 17 interlinked books, a sprawling achievement, and I've only read five so far. Could try to get through the rest by the end of the holidays, but I should really get on with stuff I have (as opposed to want) to read, right?
Monday, December 19, 2011
Slowly catching up on the backlog of TV shows that accumulated last week, between flying home and the weekend at the hotel. Had a look today at an already accepted and published story that a contributor wanted revised. This was the fourth revision she's requested since acceptance, and this most recent instance came a few months after the story had been published and she'd already promised that the previous revision would be the final one. Despite my reply that was worded to suggest that this repeated tweaking of a story that had already been accepted and was now published was unnecessary, she didn't seem to get the hint, as she replied that she was looking forward to reading it. Leaving aside that that doesn't even make sense, since she wrote the story and it's already been up on the site for months, this latest revision sees about 50% of the story being deleted and replaced by new material, not necessarily for the better. If she'd sent this version in to me all those months ago, I'd probably have rejected it. I didn't put it quite so bluntly in my most recent reply, but I did suggest that at this point, she'd be better off just changing the story's title and trying to get it accepted elsewhere, since I think that while the core of the story remains, the execution in the published version versus this most recent revision differs sufficiently. Frankly, it's become a bit too overwritten, in my opinion, and if she replies to my e-mail to express disappointment that I'm declining to update the story or anything remotely along those lines, I might actually be forced to tell her that.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Just came back from a weekend at Swissôtel The Stamford. High tea on Saturday at the Asian Market Café was surprisingly unimpressive, given how the other F&B outlets in the hotel complex are pretty good. Persuaded my mum to spend some of my dad's Les Amis Group vouchers on chocolates and macarons from Canelé Pâtisserie Chocolaterie this evening, so that was a treat. Am now replying to the second batch of questions for that interview about Eunoia Review with Geetha. Can't wait to see the full interview up at Flyway! In more frustrating news, the Library has (un)helpfully suggested that I post the book back because 'The book in question is still required by another borrower' and 'Any fines levied will be off-set against postage costs incurred'. I didn't see the Library working so hard to get the book back when it was overdue while I was waiting to borrow it. In any case, I've worked it out, and it isn't exactly worth my while to post the book back. Given its weight, surface mail is the only method that wouldn't see me paying more than my eventual total fine, and that would take so long to reach the Library, it wouldn't actually make sense. (Although come to think of it, I could do that, just to mess with them.) Any other method of posting would see me paying significantly more than I expect to be fined, and so logically, I should just hold on to the book and ignore all the unhelpful suggestions from the staff, since I'm pretty sure they've completely forgotten the fact that I'm going to be posting the book from halfway across the world and not the next county.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
I feel like I should take back everything I said about SMRT in my earlier post. Four disruptions in three days is really pushing it! This is some crazy PR disaster the company's got on its hands. Granted, the excuse is probably going to be that this latest disruption is simply an extension of what happened yesterday, but that begs the question of whether SMRT even fixed anything overnight, while the MRT system wasn't operating. It's going to be a tough sell, convincing the public that SMRT is capable of rectifying the issues, which look more and more like they're systemic, rather than being unfortunate coincidences. I imagine a section of the populace will be baying for Saw Phaik Hwa's blood soon enough. Can't say I blame them this time, even if it seems like the typical Singaporean knee-jerk reaction, conflating resignation with someone being held to account. I do agree though, with those who say that SMRT should extend some sort of goodwill gesture to commuters for the inconvenience caused by these recent disruptions. Something that goes beyond giving refunds, of course.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Am almost done with House, co-authored by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. It's a suspense/thriller novel that clips along at a rapid pace, like most of Dekker's stuff. Finishing a book of his per day doesn't seem far-fetched at all, so I might just continue reading them alongside all the academic stuff I need to get through. On a related note, I'm currently being fined 20p each day because a book I placed a hold on was returned late, thus preventing me from borrowing it until someone else has placed a hold on it too. This meant what should have been a vacation loan for me became a three-day loan, although presumably, if I were in the UK and able to return the book, this other person would now be able to hold onto the book for the rest of the holidays. Doesn't really seem fair, does it? I'm basically being inadvertently penalised for someone else's inconsideration. The Library staff haven't been especially helpful, just reiterating what I already know and completely avoiding my gripe about the unfairness of the situation and that it's also physically impossible for me to return the book before the start of term. Ah well. Why should they, when they can just fob me off and collect the eventual £5.40 fine? For a university library, our academic provision is actually really inadequate. You definitely won't find me defending the Library in the future!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
The vaunted public transport system in Singapore is taking a major battering lately. Taxi fare hike and not one, but two significant disruptions to the MRT network (albeit on entirely different lines)? It's like the proverbial perfect storm. That said, all the people ranting right now need to take a deep breath and, well, shut up. Sure, in recent years our public transport system has increasingly suffered from problems like overcrowding. Is it still a solid system? Yes, with room for improvement like any piece of infrastructure in a growing city. People are going to latch onto the spate of recent failures and completely dismiss the fact that statistically, it's hard to deny that as far as our public transport is concerned, it functions more often than not. Given the high volume of usage, the surprising thing should be that it doesn't break down more often! In this regard, the parties involved are clearly victims of their own success. They've engineered something that gives the impression of being so absolutely reliable, they've lulled the average Singaporean into a state of complacency. I'm not trying to defend SMRT here, but it is completely unrealistic to expect disruptions never to occur, even such a massive one as today's. I guess Singaporeans aren't going to buy promises that it won't happen again though, given our experience with flooding in Orchard Road...
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Ending of The Quantum Thief was excellent! Also leaves the story wide open for a sequel, so here's hoping. Am now valiantly trying to get back into reading Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. Postal issues have delivered the arrival of the new issue of Lucky Peach, so I couldn't start reading that. Also thinking of getting through some Ted Dekker or China Miéville while I'm back in Singapore. Definitely impossible to cart the Dekker novels over, although I could bring China's stuff over (again), I suppose, since I'm literally not packing any clothes for my return flight, just books, books, books. I know I said I was going to start reading academic stuff, and I definitely will once I'm over the jet lag! Genuinely excited to think about Christian Bök's work and its structure, as it really seems to tread that via media between avant-garde and accessible. Also, have just heard that Russell Hoban has died. Shame, he was one of my favourite novelists, criminally underrated writer. Maybe now that he's dead, more people will start reading his books. After all, death is one of the ultimate literary canonisers, if you're a believer in the canon. (If you aren't, you probably were reading Hoban anyway.)
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Back and unpacked, just need to shift books around to accommodate the ones that I've brought back. Almost done with The Quantum Thief, and it's pretty clear why Hannu Rajaniemi has been garnering praise for his 2010 debut. Like the best science fiction, I think where it succeeds is in establishing depth for its fictional universe without needing to spell everything out for the reader. There's the feeling that there's heaps of material that just hasn't made it into this story, but that it exists anyway and can be deployed to tell other, equally fascinating stories. I haven't spoilt the ending for myself, so I don't know if there's room for Rajaniemi to continue writing stories about Mars and the Oubliette (exomemory and gevulot are intriguing concepts, especially when you think about the current growing concerns surrounding privacy in our digital lives), but then again, Greg Egan doesn't write linked novels either and each still makes for astonishing reading. Probably going to have to hit the academic stuff pretty hard after I'm done with this novel, apart from the poetry that I'm reviewing for Sabotage Reviews over the holidays. At least I'm reading about something that I'm interested in on a personal level, even if I don't necessarily write that sort of poetry myself.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Have concluded that Economy Class on the upper deck of an A380 flight is definitely better than on the main deck. Apart from there being less passengers and what feels like better service, if two gates are used for boarding (as opposed to two exits within one gate), the upper deck gate has a way shorter queue and you won't be scrambling for a seat while waiting to board either. Didn't have any luggage issues this flight, apart from my carry-on luggage being slightly overweight. Thought it was odd that the counter staff asked to weigh it before the suitcase for checking in. Ended up removing stuff, weighing the luggage, and then putting the stuff back in! Managed to watch a couple of films during the flight, starting with The Smurfs! Loved Neil Patrick Harris, loved Smurfette's pop culture references ('I kissed a Smurf and I liked it'), loved the film's whole feel-good factor. Then I saw Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, which I was prepared to hate because I've seen the original Planet Of The Apes with Charlton Heston. That and the trailer for Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes doesn't do it justice. It emphasises the apes running amok, but in reality, it's the humans who undo civilisation all on their own. It's a very minor subplot that I think could definitely have been better fleshed out, even if this film was supposed to reboot the franchise. The payoff for that bit of the story comes in the ending credits, where the spread of the virus to pandemic proportions is shown. Anyway, I've never been a huge James Franco fan, but I really liked him in this. Also saw Love Is The Only Answer, this bizarre Hong Kong film that tried to be too clever with its flashback-within-a-flashback storytelling. Somewhat entertaining, but I've seen better from all the actors involved in TV shows. Horrible Bosses wasn't too bad. Slightly cringe-inducing in places, mostly because I thought Kevin Spacey was too good for a lowbrow comedy like this. Finally, I saw Winnie The Pooh (and I'm not ashamed to admit it)! I really liked the old school Disney animation and how the fourth wall was constantly being broken, although having recently read all the stories, I felt like this film wasn't really bringing anything new to the table.
As an editor, I find it slightly annoying to get typographically quirky submissions. Mind you, I've nothing against them per se. It's just that sometimes I find it hard to tell what the writer's intention was, and that bothers me because I really want to get it exactly right (within the limits imposed by WordPress). Haven't had anyone complain yet, so I suppose my guesswork has been pretty accurate so far. This occurred to me because I've just scheduled a poem whose indenting seemed, well, pretty random to me. (On a side note, it would be so much easier if there was a way to have WordPress automatically convert tabs into proper HTML. I'm sure there's some trick to this I haven't figured out yet, but just shoving a series of non-breaking spaces also creates the desired effect anyway.) Also, The Quantum Thief just keeps getting better and better! Have about half of the book to go, so I'm going to save it for reading material during the flight, in case there aren't any movies I want to watch. Glad I got to do worship for one more Sunday before flying home! For some reason, I couldn't get my boarding pass to print in IE, so I had to install Google Chrome on one of the Learning Grid computers and then the boarding pass got printed without a hitch. Stupid Microsoft!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Watching the blooper reels for Seasons 1 to 5 of How I Met Your Mother, after watching the one for Season 2 of Community yesterday. Hilarious! Maybe I should watch the bloopers from a drama, just to see if I'll find them as funny. Finished reading Jee Leong Koh's Seven Studies For A Self Portrait this morning before heading to the Kidz Klub meal, which ends with a masterful, lengthy sequence of ghazals. (Yay for a box of Maltesers, by the way! Thanks Sarah and Anna.) I just can't get away from how formally constructed his poems generally are, without feeling forced. Probably a bit clichéd to make the comparison to Thom Gunn, isn't it? Anyway, I was flipping at random through Poetry In Theory: An Anthology 1900-2000, edited by Jon Cook, and I'm starting to feel like I should be reading the whole thing from cover to cover, even if only a couple of the essays are actually going to be necessary for my essay eventually. I'll give it a go between services tomorrow, maybe even take the book home over the holidays. I've pretty much sorted out what books I'm taking home, for academic purposes and for relocation from one personal library to another. Cheekily overloading my carry-on suitcase, so I'm hoping the SIA counter staff won't weigh it. The suitcase that's going to be checked in is only a kilogramme or two over the weight limit, so I guess that should be fine, unless the person at the counter is being especially anal.
Friday, December 09, 2011
Have been catching up on Dexter over the past couple of days, and I've reached Season 5 now. The Season 4 finale was pretty heartbreaking, but I can see why it had to happen, in terms of the show's overall story development. Should be able to catch up completely with this show over Christmas. Don't understand why I ever stopped in the first place! Read a bit of poetry today, Jee Leong Koh, whom I enjoy because he doesn't shy away from form and rhyme in his poems. (In fact, his first pamphlet Payday Loans was a sonnet sequence, quite traditional at least in terms of its rhyming patterns.) I've also read the first chapter of The Quantum Thief, which I absolutely loved! So Amazon UK got it right this time. Am now getting around to answering the first batch of questions for that interview on Eunoia Review, and it's a pretty comprehensive list, including some that I'm not really sure how to answer because they've never really occurred to me in the course of editing the journal. Not sure if I'll be able to get through all of them tonight, but I do want to finish them before I fly back to Singapore, so that the interviewer can go through the answers and formulate her second round of questions.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Can't quite remember if I've ever read it though, or is it just its predecessor, The Pooh Perplex, that I've read. I did finish reading Feed (might pop by the Writers' Room tomorrow afternoon to return it), and I guess the ending was okay. Personally, I'd have preferred if more questions had been answered by the end, specifically in relation to the state of the world that the story is set in, but I guess since the protagonist is this completely apathetic character, it makes sense not to get all those answers as a reader. Kind of limits the book, which ties in to what I said yesterday about its critiques not being particularly subtle. Am going to start reading Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief now, as Amazon UK has been relentlessly recommending that to me, presumably on the basis of all the other science fiction titles I've been buying. The reviews of it that I've looked at suggest that Rajaniemi's writing shares an interest with the likes of Greg Egan in integrating complex scientific concepts into the story, and I'm a total sucker for Egan's work. Anyway, it randomly occurred to me today that maybe I should jet back to Singapore for my 25th birthday, since that'll happen in the middle of Summer Term when I don't have lessons and all I'm doing everyday is slaving away at my dissertation. If I could redeem a flight, I might head back for, say, three weeks around that time? Might run the idea by my parents when I'm back over Christmas, since it's my dad's miles that I'd be using to redeem any tickets anyway.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Have been approached by an MFA candidate at Iowa State University about doing an interview on Eunoia Review for the university's resident literary journal, Flyway. As Laura pointed out on Facebook, I've done interviews before for the journal, which you can find at Duotrope's Digest and The Review Review. This is the first time, however, that I'm being approached directly, as opposed to me responding to a general call to editors who would like to request an interview. It's quite exciting that someone cares enough about what I'm doing as to want to interview me about it. Speaking of interviews, I should probably start thinking about how I want to go about mine with the Ceriph editors when I'm back in Singapore, especially if I want to do something face-to-face. Have begun reading M. T. Anderson's Feed, which is a breezy read, partly because the narrator has been made so intentionally vacuous. Anderson's critique of the increasing mediatisation of society isn't exactly subtle, but it doesn't make the point any less valid, I think. Will finish reading that by tomorrow, and aim to have a quick glance through the books that arrived today from Amazon UK, just to be sure that I won't regret accepting recommendations made to me by whatever algorithm Amazon uses to determine these things!
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Have just been to the last WSC screening of the term, so I've finally made use of my crew status to watch something for free. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is definitely among the crazier shows that I've seen, but I loved it for that. This Finnish film tells the story of what happens when the 'real' Santa Claus is excavated in Korvatunturi, on the Russo-Finnish border, and turns out to be a nasty piece of work instead of a jolly gift-dispensing old man. Onni Tommila, who plays central character Pietari, is an adorable hero, and although the story logic is occasionally clunky, the film's still an enjoyable romp. A couple of trailers for films in next term's schedule were screened before the movie, and I realised that I want to watch every single one of them: Cowboys & Aliens, Contagion, Drive and In Time. On a side note, I completely understand why Ryan Gosling has risen to become Hollywood's newest 'golden boy'. What I don't understand is why people keep trying to make Olivia Wilde happen. (On another side note, how good was this week's episode of How I Met Your Mother? Not many shows could get away with that sort of double bait-and-switch, wrapping it all up in a big-hearted finish.)
Monday, December 05, 2011
With this week's episode, Once Upon A Time has officially joined Revenge as one of my favourite freshman dramas. Didn't quite get why Emma was so appalled when she found out Sheriff Graham was sleeping with Regina. I get that Emma and the Sheriff have some sort of chemistry, but her reaction was a bit overboard, given what we've seen of them together so far. Also, pretty glad that there wasn't much of Henry in this episode. He doesn't really seem to do much on the show at the moment apart from constantly insisting that Emma needs to help everyone remember their fairytale selves, right? On a more academic note, Emma Mason mentioned library.nu to us during today's seminar, which is a fantastic site where you can find electronic copies of academic texts. I've literally found most of the books that've been sitting unread on my table this term, so now they can occupy the virtual space of my hard drive instead! Seriously though, if you're a current university student, it's well worth checking out, especially for those times when there's only one circulating copy of a book and everyone seems to want it. (Frustratingly, there isn't yet a copy of The Postcolonial Unconscious available, presumably because it's way too new to have been digitised by someone and uploaded.)
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Finally ordered copies of Frederick Crews The Pooh Perplex and Postmodern Pooh, which I've already read before (why does the Library even have copies of them?), but they were so funny that I want copies of my own. I've also been re-reading the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, which even at the age of 24, I still find incredibly charming. Randomly, I'm also watching A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, a couple of days late. She's so, well, normal in this TV special for ABC. Ken Tucker at EW.com called it 'disarmingly direct, sincere, and unpretentious', and I have to say, it was actually refreshing to see this side of Lady Gaga. I suppose the fact that the audience she was performing for comprised friends and family also called for her usual brand of insanity to be dialled down more than a couple of notches. I mean, she was still quirky, but for the first time in a long, long while, it was possible to think of Lady Gaga as a human being, as opposed to this overwrought work of art. (Also, the way Lady Gaga was styled in this, didn't you think she looked a bit like Sarah Michelle Gellar's character on Ringer? It's really a bit weird.) I suppose what I enjoyed most was the reworking of songs for live performance like 'Born This Way' and 'Judas', whose studio versions can grate because of all the sonic wizardry being piled on them. Even 'Bad Romance' (still her best song for me) was given a slight spin with an actual drumbeat being thrown into the mix.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Christian Bök's Crystallography and Eunoia arrived today, so I went to the Post Room to collect them and ended up being late meeting people in Birmingham. Yeah, I left the Bubble to pay the Christmas Market a visit! It was really crowded today because it was the Family Day promotion, with discounts at the various stalls. I got some marzipan, candied nuts and a chocolate apple, so I'm happy. Would've bought more stuff as Christmas presents for people, except I did that a few years back on the first time I visited the market, so kind of out of ideas where presents are concerned. Guess I'll just buy presents when I'm back in Singapore, since I'm trying to devote as much of my luggage space as possible to carting back books I don't need with me anymore. Incidentally, this week's episode of A Gifted Man was actually pretty good, so it's a shame that show is clearly going to be cancelled. It's had three additional episodes ordered on top of its original 13-episode run, but compared to other CBS shows, its ratings mean the network's probably just looking to have material to air before spring premieres, rather than demonstrating actual faith in the show. Ah well. I guess the show has strayed too far from its initial premise anyway, which was basically Ghost Whisperer-meets-House. Now it's pretty much devolved into only being a standard case-of-the-week medical procedural, i.e. it's House but blander.
Friday, December 02, 2011
Just got back from the Singapore Society Christmas Dinner in Leamington, so that's the second time I've left campus this term! Although I kind of miss living in Leamington, it still doesn't really bother me that my life has kind of narrowed down this way though. Not sure what reasons would impel me to venture to Coventry or Leamington anyway, at least on any sort of regular basis. The libraries maybe, although I've got a mini-library of my own in my room (which I'm trying to trim by bringing some books back when I fly home for Christmas), and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what the Library on campus has to offer anyway. I've almost finished reading the latest issue of Anon, so those'll all go back with Cake and Popshot Magazine in the suitcase. I'm not really sure if I'll bring anything new over in terms of reading material this time. I guess possibly the three Bloodaxe anthologies, Staying Alive, Being Alive and Being Human, although now that the Library has copies of all of them, I'm not sure there's much of a point in doing that. Ditto for the absolutely crazy idea of bringing over all my Thomas Hardy novels. Given my track record (and the amount of stuff I actually need as opposed to want to read), whatever I've got on the bookshelves in my room now could easily keep me occupied for the remaining eight months when I get back in January. There's always Amazon UK in the unlikely event that it doesn't!
Thursday, December 01, 2011
I mentioned a while ago that I would put up links to my two latest reviews, so here and here they are. Also decided to give myself a metaphorical kick in the butt and finish writing that review of Armour instead of procrastinating further, so it's now winging its way to Craig on the electronic superhighway. Had a bit of a milestone for Eunoia Review recently as well, as the site had a record number of views for the month of November. 3075! I think taking things to the next level for the journal would have to involve creating more ways for contributors and readers to interact, maybe branch into getting other people to write original literary articles for the site, start building a community around the whole thing. Sounds fantastic, but I just don't know if I'd actually have the time to manage stuff like that! It also kind of moves away from the journal being the sort of thing you can dip into as and when you like, since it's perpetually putting new stuff up. I guess I just want to figure out how to get more exposure for the writers I publish without having to become too visible as the editor? I think it's partly because I feel like a bit of an upstart, as far as being an editor goes, although my editorial judgements don't seem to have gone too far off the rails, if I might say so, judging by readers' comments on the work being published.