Feb. 8th, 2016

catalinarembuyan: (Odilon Redon)
Work has commenced. 

I'm back at work -- my days are spent planning and conducting lessons, then planning and conducting extra-curricular activity. I'm teaching some contemporary short stories, some drama, and John Keats. The managing team for the student magazine has been selected. We have a theatre production to be staged in the upcoming months, too. 

On Education. 

Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year. I'm learning Latin, Russian and Mandarin this year. These are all difficult languages. 

1. I need Latin for my proposed doctorate research. Several years ago I got in pretty heavily into Renaissance English literature. I've decided to translate that into something certifiable -- but then, the English then didn't think of English as a great language.

2. I need Russian to read, listen and translate the materials I have at church (I attend a Russian Orthodox congregation). 

3. I need to get in touch with my Mandarin-speaking roots. I want to visit China, specifically Lufeng, the hometown of my grandfather. The old house where he used to live is gone, and each of his old friends' and family networks have moved on to the larger cities -- so no one will recognize me, but it is something I intend to do anyway. 

On Writing (or Editing and Reviewing, more specifically). 

1. Over the past few months I had my first experience working as an editor for an anthology. It's given me some insight into the selection process of creative writing journals and anthologies. I understand a little better about how some works get published and how some works don't. One day, I might reveal what those reasons are. 

2. Three of my book reviews have been published in The Star. Read my review of The Lost Landscape: A Writer's Coming of Age by Joyce Carol Oates, The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne, and Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis. These books are currently out in local bookstores, so do check them out. 

I feel that I have been doing a lot of work recently, but nothing very specifically for very extensively. I still have things to write about: I have a blog entry on books and more updates coming up about my recent travels to Japan. 
catalinarembuyan: (Hyouka - Oreki)

Foundation by Peter Ackroyd, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
  •  Xiao Xiao and the Dragon's Pearl by Joyce Ch'ng
  • The History of England Volume 1: Foundation by Peter Ackroyd
  • Rules of Desire by Dipika Mukherjee
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
  • This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
  • Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima
  • Praise of Folly by Erasmus Desidirius
  • Tunas Cipta and Dewan Sastera -- January editions
I started Spring Snow even before I visited Japan. It's not a page-turner; simultaneously very intense and very dull -- specifically it is about eccentric, intense people who live under the expectations of social conformity, and are mostly compliant to it. 

This is How You Lose Her and A Brief History of Seven Killings were both very engaging -- though a bit bloke-ish, and by that I mean very casual references to sex and sexual violence. Both the writers are cisgendered men of colour, and Marlon James in particular has spoken up about the pressure to pander to a reading audience of white middle-class women. The statement is an interesting perspective on intersectionality and questions on privilege (and where they may lie) in publishing. 

On the subject of men and privilege, The History of England Vol. 1: Foundations by Peter Ackroyd has been (and is, I'm still reading it) a really good read. (Well, it is a national history of a people generally white, and the author is a man). I've read Ackroyd's biography of Thomas More and it was very good, largely because it actually avoided talking about the man himself (Ackroyd wrote about the world around him: childhood, education, religious practice, the courts). When Ackroyd writes he appeals to my visual sense. His people and places unfold like scenes in a film. 

Reading Ackroyd and his Wikipedia page makes me feel like an under-achiever. 

Closer to home -- at least geographically -- I spent my Chinese New Year Eve reading Xiao Xiao and the Dragon's Pearl. It's accurate enough a depiction of Chinese culture (at least that which I can derive from my banana-ish Chinese maternal heritage), without the painfully dramatic depictions of Chinese traditions I have associated with English-language writing of Chinese culture and customs, which may be a form of expression against oppression but which I have also suspected to be pandering to a readership who enjoyed a little barbarism in their exotic literature. Anyway, Xiao Xiao and the Dragon's Pearl is fun and is accurate. Yes, there are jealous first and second wives, and abandoned baby girls. But it doesn't get too heavy. Ancient China was harsh, and harsher still to women, but there must have been some joy somewhere. 

I haven't finished reading Rules of Desire. I have read two of Dipika Mukherjee's other works, The Palimpest of Exile (which I really liked) and Thunder Demons (which I did not). Rules of Desire is thankfully not Thunder Demons, though it's not winning me as quickly as The Palimpest of Exile. I'm not sure why though, because all the stories are solid. Maybe I'm just not the right demographic. 

I also read Tunas Cipta and Dewan Sastera while commuting, which gives me another idea: maybe, instead of just writing about books, I could write about the literary journals and magazines I have read over a month or two weeks. It would kind of be weird and outdated I guess; but stories never really grow old. 

I loved Praise of Folly. I love it so much, I'm considering writing a full essay on it to be posted on Medium. 

February 2016

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