Monday, July 20, 2015

An Unproductive Weekend

This weekend, I simply refused to do anything but rest. I know I've been working way too hard the past couple of months, and that I needed to just learn how to enjoy the present. Thankfully, the long weekend presented itself and I just had to make good on promise to keep away from the keyboard and my sketchpad. I also really needed to spend quality time with The Hubby, we've been only been married for a year and we've been spending so much time apart because of work! Anyhow, we were very unproductive (but happy) over the weekend:
1. Met up with friends at a photography exhibit for Travel Now, then had mac and cheese and burgers over drinks.
2. Caught up with friends at an art exhibit in Silverlens (Okay, only A did, I was too late!) and hung out with a balikbayan friend (Hello Nika!).

3. Slept until noon, then woke up to eat and then watch two more episodes of Daredevil.
4. Watched part of Begin Again over beer.
5. Visited our future apartment (moving in next month), and started planning how to fix it up. (PS, it will involve a lot of painting, a new door, and new furniture!)
6. Watched Saturday Night Fever and danced during the end credits.
7. Had dinner at our favorite Solaire Resto, Lucky Noodles.
8. Finally bought that table from Crate & Barrel, can't wait to have this work table in our apartment.

9. Pork buns at Tim Ho Wan. <3 <3
10. Wrote this blog entry before bed. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

**** (4 stars)
Available in National Book Store

I'm currently obsessed with this book—everything about it makes sense to a book hoarder/critic/lover such as myself. I spent a day reading passages from this novel to Aurelio because it resonated with me so much. Though there are some loopholes in the plot, the prose and dialogue are spot-on. The language is beautiful, it glides well even if the descriptions are concise. Here is an author with an ear for the English language.

Here are some gems:

On the books that Mr. Fikry don't like
"Like," he repeats with distaste. "How about I tell you what I don't like? I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn't be—basically gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful—nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups a la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children's books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and—I imagine this goes without saying—vampires. I rarely stock debuts, chick lit, poetry, or translations. I would prefer not to stock series, but the demands of my pocketbook require me to. For your part, you needn't tell me about the 'next big series' until it is ensconced on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Above all, Ms. Loman, I find slim literary memoirs about little old men whose little old wives have died from cancer to be absolutely intolerable. No matter how well written the sales rep claims they are. No matter hw many copies you promise I'll sell on Mother's Day."

On Infinite Jest:
"Inifinite Jest is an endurance contest. You manage to get through it and you have no choice but to say you like it. Otherwise, you have to deal with the fact that you just wasted weeks of your life."

On his wife's death and Raymond Carver:
"If this were a Raymond Carver, you'd offer me some meager comfort and darkness would set in and all this would be over. But this... is a feeling more like a novel to me after all. Emotionally, I mean. It will take me a while to get through it. Do you know?"

On losing his copy of Edgar Allan Poe's first edition of Tamerlane
"Someone stole Tamerlane," A.J. says.
"What's Tamerlane?"
"It's a book. It's a very valuable book."
"To clarify. You mean someone shoplifted a book from the store."
"No. It was my book from my personal collection. It is an extremely rare collection of poems by Edgar Allan Poe."
"So, it's like, your favorite book?" Lambiase asks.
"No. I don't even like it. It's crap, it's jejune crap. It's..." A.J. is hyperventilating. "Fuck."
"Calm down, Mr. Fikry. I'm trying to understand. You don't like the book, but it has sentimental value?"
"No! Fuck sentimental value. It has great financial value. Tamerlane is like the Honus Wagner of rare books! You know what I'm saying?"

On what to feed a baby
"By the time the arrive at the apartment, Maya is full-on crying, a sound somewhere between a New Year's Eve party horn and a fire alarm. A.J. deduces that she is hungry, but he has no clue what to feed a twenty-five-month-old. He pulls her lip to see if she has teeth. She does and she uses them to try to bite him. He Googles the questions: "What do I feed a twenty-five-month-old?" and the answer that comes back is that most of them should e able to eat what their parents eat. What Google does not know is that most of what A.J. eats is disgusting. His fridge contains a variety of frozen foods, many of them spicy. He calls his sister-in-law Ismay for help.

On his sister-in-law
A.J. nods, though he thinks the real cause is that his sister-in-law frightens the baby. Ismay has stylishly cut, spiky red hair, pale skin and eyes, long, spindly limbs. All her features are a little too large, her gestures a little too animated. Pregnant, she is like a very pretty Gollum. Even her voice might be off-putting to a baby. It is precise, theater-trained, always pitched to fill the room. In the fifteen or so years he has known her, A.J. thinks Ismay has aged like an actress should: from Juliet to Ophelia to Gertrude to Hecate.

On Lambiase's ex wife
Lambiase is recently divorced. He had married his high school sweetheart, so it took him a long time to realize that she was not, in fact, a sweetheart, or a very nice person at all. In arguments, she was fond of calling him stupid and fat. He is not stupid, by the way, though he is neither well read nor well traveled. He is not fat, though he is built like bulldog—thick-muscled neck, short legs, broad, flat nose. A sturdy American bulldog, not an English one.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

New year, new job

Sunday, December 07, 2014

This too shall pass

I'm in a funky mood. Trouble at home, at work, everywhere. Waiting for the stars to align. In the meantime—

Beautiful Sorrow by Ben Trovato 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Can't Write With You Babe

Hello there again. It seems as if I've relegated my website to be my sounding board for writing complaints and such. I've been trying to write all morning but have been distracted by my husband and all the things he's working on—playing, making me read his work, talking on the phone—and I've come to realize that I do need to hear my thoughts when I'm writing. I either need complete silence, or the background sound (I like cafes or busy newsrooms) must be indistinct as to not distract me from my work. When I listen to music, it needs to not have any words at all, or else I'll go off and start daydreaming again.

Sylvia Plath
In any case, I should go back to my paid, consumerist ramblings. I have deadlines!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Still Writing

So… I finished my first draft and I'm still not happy. No one is happy after the first draft—just relived that the ordeal is over. I had to rewrite the lede an insane number of times before I settled on one, but even then I couldn't seem to sustain the energy. It was simply forced, kinda fake, and shallow. Right after writing it, I threw it back to my secret editor, my husband, A, and he tried to make sense of it. He couldn't! I need to get back on the page soon. I mustn't let it end like this!

Anyhow, I'm trying to find inspiration from narrative writers. I'm having a difficult time with narrative, maybe it's because I'm always lazy when it comes to storytelling. I don't like explaining so much, I'd rather people just read and check things out themselves. Here's Cheryl Strayed in Wild. 

The trees were tall, but I was taller, standing above them on a steep mountain slope in northern California. Moments before, I’d removed my hiking boots and the left one had fallen into those trees, first catapulting into the air when my enormous backpack toppled onto it, then skittering across the gravelly trail and flying over the edge. It bounced off of a rocky outcropping several feet beneath me before disappearing into the forest canopy below, impossible to retrieve. I let out a stunned gasp, though I’d been in the wilderness thirty-eight days and by then I’d come to know that anything could happen and that everything would. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t shocked when it did.
My boot was gone. Actually gone.
Anyhow, I must go back to writing. Ta-ta!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On Writing

Whenever I'm stuck on a writing assignment, I tend to seek out other writers who might have something to say about my predicament. The writing process is quite lonely—even if I married a writer (just two months ago!), and while we discuss our stories, ledes, and angles all the time—at the end of the day it's still me and my fountain pen or my keyboard (that now sounds like a typewriter thanks to this Noisy Typer app), and the horror of a blank page.

In any case, I was reviewing some of the books I took back from New York City only to find The Rolling Stone Interviews on my shelf. I'm following this story/interview of Truman Capote with Andy Warhol in 1973. Rolling Stone Magazine commissioned Truman Capote to cover the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street tour but after several months, he still can't seem to deliver. Instead, the magazine asked Andy Warhol to interview Capote instead and figure out what happened with him and why he can't seem to write the story.

Having just read In Cold Blood last month on the Kobo (this was before my stupid reading/sleeping accident last week that involved my iPad 2), I'm quite curious as to why Capote can't seem to file his story.

Here's his answer on why he couldn't write the article:

"The reason was—two fold. One: As the thing progressed, I saw more and more trash written about the entire tour, and ordinarily that sort of thing doesn't bother me: I mean, for instance, I could cover a trial that's being covered by seventeen or eighteen newspapers at the time, and it doesn't faze me in the least because I know it has nothing to do with what my own insight is.
But my trouble with this was that especially in journalistic writing… au reportage… there has to be some element of mystery to me about it. And the problem with me with this piece was that there was no mystery. There was not a thing about it that set some mystery going into my mind as to why this should be or that should be, because it was all so perfectly timed… staged—I mean psychologically—I'm not talking about the performance itself. Just the whole combination of the thing was so perfectly obvious. The people were so obvious, and so they really had no dimension beyond their own. I mean, Mick Jagger has a certain mystery to him, but simply because he's a bit of a doppelgänger. I mean, he's a highly trained performer, and on the other hand, he's a businessman par excellence. And the whole thing is perfectly obvious, and so it had no mystery to it. Since there was nothing to "find out," I just couldn't be bothered writing it. Does that make sense to you?"

He poised that question to Andy Warhol, and I think I'd rather answer that.

Yes that makes perfect sense! How many times have I abandoned a celebrity story only to pick it up again come deadline time because I have to turn it in? (Unlike Capote, I cannot just miss a deadline!) I get bored with one-dimensional subjects easily, which makes it difficult when I realize in the middle of an interview that all they're giving me are their PR answers.

On material:
"Yes, there's material, but it's just that. Material. It's just that. It doesn't have any echo. It isn't that you want to forget about it because of the unpleasantness; it's just because it doesn't have any echo. Nowhere in the whole story of the Rolling Stones could I find anything sympathetic except the naïveté of the kids… which wasn't—maybe in itself—true, either. Maybe it was just sentimentality."

On guilt about not finishing the story:
"Not in the least. When I make up my mind about something, I never feel guilty. That's ti. No artist should feel guilty. If you start painting and you don't like it, you don't finish it."

On telling the editor:
"Well, because I hadn't really made up my mind. I had all of the material there, and it was sitting there, and it was bothering me, and I kept thinking, "Well, it would be so easy, really, to do it." Finally the time came that I just made up my mind that I wasn't going to do it. And I just told him. They voted me Rookie Reporter of the Year."

Truman Capote by Richard Avedon