10 September 2010

Weekend Reading List

Have you ever read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? I've read about this Mark Twain American classic so many times but never got round to it, and finally, this weekend, I shall, in a bout of virtue. It doesn't begin badly, if the territory isn't exactly familiar; Never mind, I shall press on - reading is discovery isn't it?
My dear friends, whom I've known for more than a decade, have also given me books which, in a way, represent who they think I am; but really, the choices are as much about the giver, aren't they? PH, the movie buff (and avid collector of movie posters) gave me Sam Wasson's Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman, which the NYT says is "crammed with irresistibale tidbits..."
I do not at all mind the association with Ms Hepburn, the movie, or the novel.
JY, a teacher, gave me two books: Diana Darling's The Painted Alphabet: A Novel based on a Balinese Tale and Gao Xingjian's Soul Mountain. Mr Gao is the first Chinese author ever to win the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature (with this book) about modern-day China.
For refreshment, I'm also skimming (daintily, yes, but still skimming) through Tea with Jane Austen, by Kim Wilson. This is a lightweight and diverting social history on the luxury item tea during Jane Austen's time.
The magazine covers: They haven't dropped yet at this point but initial thoughts are (top to bottom) W Michelle Williams has been photoshopped to look like what Nicole Kidman wants to look like. That man kissing her wig (poor thing!) is supposed to be Ryan Gosling, but could be anyone. Not that you know what Ryan Gosling looks like. I certainly don't. Fantastic Man I like this cover. Bryan Ferry looks quite jolly, does he not? And interesting.
The Gentlewoman I'm interested to read about Inez van Lamsweerde but I just think it's desperate sensationalism to call her "the world's best fashion photographer". I like Ms Van Lamsweerde's work as much as anyone else, but "world's best"? Let's check with Ms Meisel first, shall we? Vanity Fair Is that Michelle Pfeiffer? Vogue My goodness, they are determined to make Carey Mulligan into a fashion personage aren't they (Chanel couture!)? You know what? Ms Mulligan could very well be Michelle Williams on the W cover, or vice versa, and nobody would bet an eyelash. No one would know.


  1. what an interesting list you have there.

    - Huckleberry Finn - had to read bits of it for this undergraduate english class aeons ago. recently tried to read it again, but i don't know, this time round i'm just not feeling the southern dialect. still stuck somawhere around page 150 or so...

    - Soul Mountain - i read the thing in chinese when he got the award in 2000. as you'll discover for yourself, as the book progresses, the odd (or is it even) numbered chapters which deal with factual/historical/socio-anthropological information of south-western china makes for rather absorbing reading, as the region is quite mysterious & has been rife with supernatural rites since ancient times.

    but the opposite numbered chapters, where Gao tries to do french-style existential/surrealist stream-of-consciousness narrative, with heaps of - eewwww - hetero sex crammed in, are most trying. so in the end i basically skipped all these chapters & read half the book.

    as a documentary semi-non-fictional work it's good, but i think the Noble awarded to him was given as much for political as for literary reasons. they wanted someone apolitical, and they found one in Gao, whom hardly anyone had heard prior to the award.

  2. Dear Anon: Thanks for the review. I'm one of those that compulsively finish any book that i start no matter how horrible. So yes, Huckleberry already feels like it will be somewhat a struggle, but struggle i must.