News for November 2011

16: If on a Winter’s Night A traveler

by Italo Calvino

it took me a lot longer to finish this book than I had thought…

but here is my hypothesis about it.

As a writer, one of the most fun things that you could do is START a book. Goddamit, when the ideas are flowing and you don’t have to figure out the relationships of all the characters. You don’t have to figure out if it makes sense or not. None of that matters, what matters is the idea, the scene in your head, what they are wearing, the way the wind comes down and blows her beautiful red hair into the wind.

That is the best feeling.
I often get “scenes” in my head, unfortunately, more than often the scenes never materialize themselves into novels, or even stories for that matter. Planning, in this case, is definitely not my forte.

That’s why I think that Italo Calvino is an absolute genius in this sense. He probably started 5 or 6 stories that probably would become something else, something more. But while he’s agonizing over these unfinished stories, instead, he chose to leave the scenes as they are and built a brand new story around it. That contains all of these stories yet, no, not really, it is not focused on any of them.

But, of two characters, Reader and Reader..those are two people, trust me, I read the book.

Brilliant! it’ll be the most sought out book of the year (that year is 1979).
Because other than that reason, I cannot fathom how someone can come up with this idea of this story.

I just cannot fathom it. I cannot think it up, that’s for sure.
That’s why it’s so brilliant.

I got lost a lot…but it’s still worth reading, very much so.

Also, what “writers” love reading about is writing, they love to read about how other people write, or think about writing, or about reading, the processes involved, the difficulties, the rewards, the hysteria, all of it.

at least i love it.

the edition i own is the everyman’s library edition

page 4: It’s not that you expect anything in particular from this particular book. You’re the sort of person who, on principle, no longer expects anything of anything. There are plenty, younger than you or less young, who live in the expectation of extraordinary experiences: from books, from people, from journeys, from events, from what tomorrow has in store. But not you. You know that the best you can expect is to avoid the worst. This is the conclusion you have reached, in your personal life and also in general matters, even international affairs. What about books? Well, precisely because you have denied it in every other field, you believe you may still grant yourself legitimately this youthful pleasure of expectation in a carefully circumscribed area like the field of books, where you can be lucky or unlucky, but the risk of disappoint isn’t serious.

page 29:
“I prefer novels,” she adds, “that brings me immediately into a world where everything is precise, concrete, specific. I feel a special satisfaction in knowing that things are made in that certain fashion and not otherwise, even the most commonplace things that in real life seem indifferent to me.”

page 46-47

“Me? I don’t read books!” Irnerio says.
“What do you read, then?”
“Nothing. I’ve become so accustomed to not reading that I don’t even read what appears before my eyes. It’s not easy: they teach us to read as children, and for the rest of our lives we remain the slaves of all the written stuff they fling in front of us. I may have had to make some effort myself, to learn not read, but now it comes quite naturally to me. The secret is not refusing to look at the written words. On the contrary, you must look at them, intensely, until they disappear.”

page 143

And yet the sight of the books in Ludmilla’s house proves reassuring for you. Reading is solitude. To you Ludmilla appears protected by the valves of the open book like an oyster in its shell. The shadow of another man, probable, indeed certain, is if not erased, thrust off to one side. One reads alone, even in another’s presence. But what, then, are you looking for here? Would you like to penetrate her shell, insinuating yourself among the pages of the books she is reading? Or does the relationship between one Reader and the Other Reader remain that of two separate shells, which can communicate only through partial confrontations of two exclusive experiences?

page 167

At times I think of the subject matter of the book to be written as of something that already exists: thoughts already thought, dialogue already spoken, stories already happened, places and settings seen; the book should be simply the equivalent of the unwritten world translated into writing. At other times, on the contrary, I seem to understand that between the book to be written and things that already exist there can be only a kind of complementary relationship: the book to be written counterpart of the unwritten world; its subject should be what does not exist and cannot exist except when written, but whose absence is obscurely felt by that which exists, in its own incompleteness.

page 174

I stop before I succumb to the temptation to copy out all of Crime and Punishment. For an instant I seem to understand the meaning and fascination of a now inconceivable vocation: that of the copyist. the copyist lived simultaneously in two temporal dimensions, that of reading and that of writing; he could write without the anguish of having the void open before his pen; read without the anguish of having his own act become concrete in some material object.

page 188

Apocrypha (from the Greek Apokryphos, hidden, secret): (1) Originally referring to the “secret books” of religious sects; later to texts not recognized as canonical in those regions which have established canon of revealed writings; (2) referring to texts falsely attributed to a period or to an author.

page 205

You fasten your seatbelt. The plane is landing. To fly is the opposite of traveling: you cross a gap in space, you vanish into the void, you accept not being in any place for a duration that is itself a kind of void in time; then you reappear, in a place and in a moment with no relation to the where and the when in which you vanished.

Posted: November 29th, 2011
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS, QUOTES
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17: Soon I will be Invincible

by Austin Grossman

A super hero book!
A super hero novel!

Austin Grossman is the twin brother of Lev Grossman. I wish I had a twin, maybe one of us would have had an aptitude for science.

Don’t you have a bachelors IN science? yes i do..have..a bachelors in science, if one of us had an aptitude for science then maybe it would’ve been a less hellish four years.

anywyas

perhaps its because they are brothers but there are a lot of underlying themes that are running through this novel that’s similar to The Magicians….

I enjoyed it more than I thought because I often cannot understand the descriptors of action. It’s like, a hammer hit his head, well in this case the hammer of RA, but it’s like alright I get it but I don’t feel it. But from that point of view it was well done…

the characters are interesting
and there was an actual plot twist near the end! there are certain books that have become too predictable for me and it’s boring when you can sort of see what’s going to happen near the end.

i didn’t really feel it with this one only because super heroes are not my field at all, which keeps things interesting i guess :D :D

a few quotable quotes…

page 5:

I’m the smartest man in the world. Once I wore a cape in public, and fought battles against men who could fly, who had metal skin, who could kill you with their eyes. I found CoreFire to a standstill, and the Super Squadron, and the Champions. Now I have to shuffle through a cafeteria line with men who tried to pass bad checks. Now I have to wonder if there will be chocolate milk in the dispenser. And whether the smartest man in the world has done the smartest thing he could with his life.

page 11

I didn’t cultivate friendships, just a nerdy camaraderie with the top few science students. but i was the usual combination of petty arrogance and abject loneliness. i was ashamed of my desperate eagerness to please, and unable to control it. why should i be singled out from other people as uniquely gifted, and uniquely worthless? I ate my lunches alone, and it’s a small blessing my diaries were destroyed.

page 74

It wouldn’t make me one of them. I knew that when I got my powers, but really I knew it before then. I learned it as a child on my first day of school, on the warm rainy streets of Bangkok, and in college. If you’re different you always know it, and you can’t fix it even if you want to. What do you do when you find out your heart is the wrong kind? You take what you’re given, and be the hero you can be. Hero to your own cold, inverted heart.

There are a lot of similarities between Doctor Impossible (the bad guy that I am rooting for) and Quentin Coldwater (From the Magicians). For one thing, they are smart and lonely. But quentin ultimately wants to be the hero while the Doc roots for the other side. Good and evil are blurred lines of a reality that we’ve created to want to be inside or outside the box. I root for evil for the doc, and i root for good for Quentin.

But the both of them knew that they weren’t meant to be anybodies, even for the doc, even with his power, he knew that he wouldn’t be a regular super-person, he had to be a super villain. For quentin, he knew that just getting into an ivy league school wasn’t going to be the lettuce of the salad (I don’t really get this expression but it’s suppose to be like the cream of the crop right?) that he was meant for greater things.

we all think that
i know i think that at least

i know im meant for greater things
but right now i’m willing to settle for anything…

oh the life of a super hero
oh the life of a super villain
oh the life of someone that has the ability to make magic
oh the life of someone like me

but in The Magician King, we realized that dammit we could be whatever we want to be, like Julia.

They told me I could be anything that I wanted, so I became a table

You could too, if you truly wanted…

Posted: November 23rd, 2011
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS
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instant like noodles

i started rewriting…….my book
and it’s alright i guess
to be honest i think i know myself a lot better the second time around
i think i tried too hard to be someone that i’m not the first time
visual imagery, there was too much of it, i tried too hard to create a world that didn’t really matter because the plot didn’t exist
i recreated the plot
i rehashed the characters into what would considered “better”
and their stories got more complicated
but still
I suck

sucking at something that you really want to do is really depressing

i want something good to come out of my writing
and i want it pretty badly
but sometimes i think my procrastination nature means i don’t want it that badly

the words aren’t flowing out of my finger tips and im at a stand still
AGAIN

you have to really just keep on going whether it’s good or bad……
i can’t see the good at all
i can’t see that it’ll get better

so i don’t know what to do

Posted: November 22nd, 2011
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excerpt from my journal (6)

I got the word wrong, also irrecovacably isnt a word..apparently..where did i get this from

nov 20th

I feel irretrievably lost. To quote Murakami.
I don’t know how to feel these days and I am absolutely annoyed and fed up with everyone.
i came up with a way to deal with things

1. read – when you can’t read then -> 2. write – when you can’t write..then…(points to no. 1)

hopefully that’ll help things.

Posted: November 20th, 2011
Categories: excerpts from my journal
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18: 1Q84

Oh So very behind on the reading and writing about what i’m reading thing. I have to read 17 more books by January 15th to make the year! There are a few books that i’ve never finished but still counted it as a week but there were also weeks where i read two so it evens out i think….

my room is crazy cold right now ;_; I don’t know why or maybe just my hand is crazy cold.

anyways.

I finally finished this behemoth of a Murakami novel, 3 volumes in 1, the American version anyway.

I am planning to write about this book, or at least I had wanted to, maybe I won’t, for one of my grad school applications cause we have to….write about a book…

First impressions weren’t good, the whole time I felt like I read this before. I’ve read several of Murakami’s previous works and its so similar in some ways that he’s just literally regurgitating what he’s written before. But as I read more the plot developed more but like every other time, I cannot attach myself to any of his characters…

also here’s something else that i realized, he hates ugly people!

Maybe I’m wrong but the name ushikawa was used in the Wind up Bird Chronicles, and that character acted as some sort of a devious informant. It’s very interesting in the chapters that were labeled Ushikawa that he himself knew of his ugliness. Literally and I mean very literally, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes it’s not about the height of your cheekbones or the length of your eyelashes but confidence, charisma that attracts people to you, or not to you. Models are beautiful naturally, but if she didn’t stand up straight and pout her lips like she could have you because she could, you might feel differently about her. And why does she look like that? It’s her freaking job to look good. And in general, we love beautiful people, it can’t be helped.

So ushikawa’s strange shaped head, general perverseness was keenly described in this novel as well as WUBC. I feel like Murakami has something against someone named Ushikawa.

Now about the characters….

They are the same person. when have you or me in this instance, ever read about a Murakami character that wasn’t neat? that didn’t do the dishes right after they cooked? That didn’t dressed in perfectly wrinkle-free clothes? The ladies were fine and classy, they were armani and ferragamo, they were fashionable and confident yet often stirred into this horrendous, weird-sexed world.

Also, if I have to read about the swelling of a young girl’s chest ONE MORE TIME! I’ve never noticed how rare it is that pubic hair is described in a novel until I’ve read how often it is described in Murakami’s books, WISPY WISPY?

It’s an interesting story, but in the end it lead me to a disappointing end. They got off easy, people died for them and they just sorta ended up together with a baby?

You could say that love transcends all time and beliefs, it transcends space and flesh but really? This many people died so you guys could get together at the end and have a kid?

It was some what anticlimatic and too convenient of a way to end the novel.

I was really disappointed that he chose this route.

What I realized is that for this kind of weird shit not to happen to you it’s better to lead a messy life. If it’s too clean and neat you’re going to get screwed and start seeing 2 moons in the sky. Just not have your life together, don’t iron your clothes, don’t have the ability to cook a meal from ingredients from your fridge, eat out more often and stay away opportunities that seem to good to be true. That’s the general consensus that i got from his novels, don’t be that awesomely well-read jazzy-listening person, and these kind of things will steer clear of you, because you won’t be able to pull out philosophical references from your ass, and you’ll seem too stupid to be apart of something so grand and schematic.

I don’t know that much about the world, and whether these things exist or not is beyond me, and i hope it never happens to me.

That being said, I do have some quotes…

page 229 Then he sat in a kitchen chair and drank his beer in silence while staring at the calendar on the wall. It was a free calendar from the bank containing photos of Mount Fuji. Tengo had never climbed Mount Fuji. He had never gone to the top of Tokyo Tower, either, or to the roof of a skyscraper. He had never been interested in high places. He wondered why not. Maybe it was because he had lived his whole life looking at the ground.

page 248 All I can do is live the life I have. I can’t trade it in for a new one. However strange and misshapen it might be, this is it for the gene carrier that is me.

page 257 “Robbing people of their actual history is the same as robbing them of part of themselves. It’s a crime.”

this one is personal, WWII, nanjing, Japan you better keep on remembering.

page 313 Tamaru met Aomame at the front door, wearing a dark summer suit, white shirt, and solid-color tie. There was not a drop of sweat on him. Aomame always found it mysterious that such a big man did not sweat on even the hottest summer days.

this is an example of what i mean by being too clean, how can a large man in the middle of summer just not sweat? why are his characters so flawed in that sense? Sweating makes you weak?

page 332 Friends? Tengo wondered – out of pure curiosity – what kind of person would want to be this man’s friend.

why i can’t like this character Tengo, he’s so full of himself? arrogance is alright in books but don’t make him out to be some kind of a saint that deserves a supernatural reunification with his classmate from 20 years ago.

page 570 The driver hummed the first few bars of the theme song. Then he looked in the mirror for another close look at Aomame.
“come to think of it, miss, something about you reminds me of Faye Dunway.”
“Thank you,” Aomame said, struggling somewhat to hide the smile that formed around her lips.

you can charm an assassin with a compliment apparently

582 “I can’t say that things are going all that well for the moment, but if possible I’d like to make my living by writing – not just rewriting somebody else’s work but writing what I want to write, the way I want to write it. Writing – and especially fiction writing – is well suited to my personality, I think. It’s good to have something you want to do, and now I finally have it. Nothing of mine has ever been published with my name on it, but that ought to happen soon enough. I’m really not a bad writer, if I do say so myself. at least one editor gives me some credit for my talent. I’m not worried on that front.”

for myself…..

616 “I don’t think I’m lonely,” Aomame declared. She said this half to Tamaru, and half to herself. “I’m all alone, but I’m not lonely.”

639 Aomame didn’t find it painful to be shut away, living a monotonous, solitary existence. she got up everyday at six thirty and had a simple breakfast. Then she would spend an hour or so doing laundry, ironing, or mopping the floor. For an hour and a half in the morning she used the equipment Tamaru had obtained for her to do a strenuou workout. As a fitness instructor she was well versed in how much stimulation all the various muscles needed every day – how much exercise was just right, and how much was excessive.

the following passage is from Murakami’s interview with the paris Review

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long—six months to a year—requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.

Here’s another thing, whether poor or rich, all of the protagonists always had someone of power and wealth behind them. They never had anything to worry about. For me, I do not want supernatural things to happen to me but if you wanted to be intrigued by another world, you can’t! unless you’re wealthy or knew someone wealthy that could just make things happen for you….

that’s another reason i dont’ like this characters, they always have a way of getting out of things…

hmm

but this book caught my interest because it’s about a guy that writes and a novel that gains acclaim…

i read anything and everything about the act of writing these days…that’s how i was able to finish this bloated novel…very bloated, i feel like this novel could be written in 600 pages rather than 900

there was a huge amount of repetition especially near the end…
actual recount of things that had already happened from another character’s point of view….

sigh

but anyways

i would give it…

a B- for grade… i liked it more than Wind Up Bird Chronicle, less intriguing than Kafka on the Shore…

Posted: November 20th, 2011
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS
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like everything, it needs a beginning

A letter came in early spring, a letter not longer than a page and half. Thick, rich, crème-colored paper that were heavy on the heart, nothing too good ever came in a package like that. Raf skimmed the contents of the letter and pulled on his worn-out leather jacket. A thick scarf and he left his apartment for a lawyer’s office that he had never heard of.
We are sorry about your loss, they muttered as he looked at his watch.

Your grandfather left you a part of his estate, they continued. It was incredibly hot in the office. He glanced around at the suits, they perfectly matched the state of the office in their tones of grey and charcoal.

We just need you to …. Their voices trailed off in his mind. He was sure he was supposed to feel something about this but to their hearts content he signed and signed, left his mark next to bright red arrows with bold capped-locked words, SIGN HERE, the small piece of plastic instructed. And sign he did.

They shook hands, as it was customary, apparently. Raf didn’t know if it was, it was his first time. He made no eye contact and left the office as quickly as he came in. He received an envelope with a few things; a hand written letter and a set of keys. He stepped out into the street and pulled his jacket closer around him, did it just get colder?

He held the yellow manila envelope with two fingers, barely acknowledging their existence and hurried back to his warm apartment.
He opened the large heavy wooden door and tossed the keys into a glass bowl by the door. In a similar fashion, he opened a drawer

and tossed the envelope and the contents inside. He didn’t want to see it again.

<em>I started writing! horray! I don’t really like this beginning but at least i am starting…there are a lot of kinks to fix but horray it has started. it feels good to start, it feels really good.</em>

Posted: November 18th, 2011
Categories: ORIGINAL WORK
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Protected: Essay B: attempt 3

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Posted: November 17th, 2011
Categories: Essays
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P for Procrastinating

P for Plotting! Plotting, and timelining
or at least that’s what im supposed to be doing
i dont have anything to write today, maybe something will strike me later and ill write but right now i got nothing…plotttinggggggg

Posted: November 16th, 2011
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Protected: Essay B

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Posted: November 16th, 2011
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Packing

I stood in the room, which room was it? The bedroom, oh that’s right, I came in here to get my blue duffle bag. I have to pack. It’s tomorrow. I have to pack right now because it’s already well past midnight. Do I need to sleep tonight? Will there be a need to be awake tomorrow?
Why am I packing? Do I need clothes?
I will come out of there, probably. Probably is as good as it gets.
I don’t know.
I feel heavy, deciding on the types of clothes to bring is heavy. I should pack something else instead.
I turn on the light in the bathroom. Has it always been so goddamned bright?
Ow, it probably wasn’t a good idea to just rip that fluorescent tube out.
It’s darker now, okay, it’s darker now.
I can’t really see my own face anymore. That’s good, I don’t want to see this face.
So…
Toothpaste? Sure
Toothbrush? Yeah, probably, to go with the toothpaste.
Shampoo? Conditioner? Oh wait, I don’t have hair.
I laughed.
I got to laugh.
A towel? Is a hospital like a hotel? Do I need these things?
I didn’t know. I’ve never had to stay overnight at a hospital before.
Perhaps I won’t have to tomorrow.
But I hope I do. I hope so, fuck, I hope I get to stay.
I took a deep breath.
I hope I get to eat green colored jello.
I hope I get to suck on ice chips.
I hope…..
I hope that I won’t have to die.
I go back into the bedroom and picked out soft clothes, a half-finished novel, my ipod.
Where I’m going I hope I’ll need it all.
I really need to need it.
I need it.

trying to write everyday! i watched 50/50 today. I’m really glad that I went alone. I cried a lot, and it was really ugly so it was good that i went alone. i wrote one scene, or at least which i imagined it should have been a painful scene….

here’s the trailer for 50/50
it’s funny, and not shown at most theaters anymore. i had to go to a smaller theater, but whatever, it was fine.

Posted: November 15th, 2011
Categories: EMBEDS, random things that i write
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