Happy accidents

February 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’m generally resistant to change, especially when it comes to finding a new author. Or maybe I’m just lazy. Whatever the reason, I buy up everything an author has ever written, prolonging the inevitable moment when I’ve reread my pack of toothpaste a dozen times and have to accept that I must go out and get new reading material. I came upon Nick Hornby on one such expedition to my local bookstore. At that point, I hadn’t even known About a Boy had been based on a book. I only knew that Hugh Grant had once again chosen to play a character he didn’t have to exert himself and his limited acting skills for. But I did remember that the story was a charming portrait of a guy who had tried to avoid responsibility all his life and who suddenly found himself stuck with the biggest responsibility of all: being someone impressionable’s role model. So I got the book and Nick Hornby became my author in residence. He writes about everyday men, men you expect to find on the street and may have already met. We all know them – charming, lovable men who have their faults but have learned to accept them and are just looking for that one person who would take them as they are, warts, neuroses and all.

Underdogs always win

February 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

What are the three things I cannot live without? Books, movies and food – in that order. In that sense, The Commitments by Roddy Doyle is close to perfect. This is one of those few instances when the movie complements the book so well, you can hear the actors’ voices while you read. It’s a story about young musicians introducing soul to a dying industrial town in Ireland. Don’t tell anyone but one of my guilty pleasures is watching the movie, forwarding to the singing portions and then rereading the book.

Not shite at all

February 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

I fell in love with Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting and bought the book mainly because it featured him on the cover. It was one of my best finds ever. And it’s available for sale too just as soon as I muster up enough interest to pry it out of the clutches of an ex-mistake. But back to Irvine Welsh, he’s just as difficult to read as it was trying to understand the gang’s dialogue in Trainspotting. But once you get the hang of the Scottish brogue you’re in for one helluva ride. Welsh has the ability to make even the grungiest of characters noteworthy and eventually lovable. 4 Play is a collection of Welsh’s stage adaptations for Trainspotting, Marabou Stork Nightmares and Ecstasy & Filth. Glue is similar to Trainspotting as it’s about friends growing up together in Scotland but it’s different in that we see the characters actually grow up, not just in the sense that they grow older, but also in the way their ideals change. They still speak the same language though so expect to have this on your nightstand for longer than a night or two.

The devil wears plastic

February 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

One of the unShelved is notoriously fussy about books. She hates having them dogeared or showing any sign at all of being cracked open. She’d whack you if your bookmark was any thicker than a receipt. When you lend her a book, you risk it coming back to you with a way of shaming you for not taking care of it better. Thus, I present to you the only book in my collection with a plastic cover: Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada. You’ve all heard how movies never do justice to the book and this is one fine example. In the book, the heroine shows more guts than Imelda Marcos has shoes. And is several leagues over Anne Hathaway’s porcelain faced, delicate flower in haute couture depiction. Yes, it smacks of chick lit (hate this descriptor), what with its setting in the center of the fashion world. But it’s really about how all of us just try to get by while we sort out what we want to be when we grow up. And there always has to be someone to throw in a spanner in the works. That’s just life, though I wish mine came with a fabulous wardrobe too.

I’m different and that’s okay

February 13, 2010 § Leave a comment


Before Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club, my idea of the Chinese was that they were a race of Shaolin fighting cooks. And that’s not derogatory in any way. I used to get up early on Saturdays to watch this tiny Chinese woman make delicious food from what was seemingly anything she could find in her kitchen. And an hour after that, Stephen Yan would come through his sliding paper doors to cheerfully say, “Herrooooooooooo, today I cook for you . . . ” But I digress. Amy Tan’s depiction of life as a Chinese immigrant’s daughter opened up a world that was not too different from mine, except that hers was filled with characters so vividly drawn, you expect to meet them on the street somehow. I’ve been a fan ever since. I especially look out for those moments when she describes Chinese mothers. Like mine, they’re a little bit neurotic and so far removed from my world that they might as well be speaking an alien language. They shout and sometimes find no other recourse than to hit you on the head, but at the heart of it all is a mother who only wants what’s best for you and is willing to go through great lengths to get it for you.

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