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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

On Borges, Eco, Calvino, Marquez... and McDull

I never forgave my secondary school for banning us from bringing novels to school. That is why I constantly speak about it.

Back then, unable to accept such a rule, I occasionally brought a book to school for some reading pleasure. Alas, the school prefects deemed me, a guy who was just sitting at the corner, quietly reading a book, a threat to school safety, thus my books were sometimes confiscated.

I had to write eloquent letters to the prefects just so I could get them back.

That is why, in some of my angry rants over the years, I couldn't stop blaming the local education system for not emphasizing the importance of literature and culture to its students, that we lived merely to score well academically, that our education was more on learning how to deal with exams, instead of preparing us properly to contribute to society. That our country is full of highly-educated folks who don't give a crap about literature.

Many years ago, back in Perth, Justin (who used to contribute to this blog but had since became a published novelist himself) once said this:

"I cannot imagine anyone not picking up a novel in their entire life. What sort of existence is that?"

I shrugged. "A typical Malaysian."

Being in love with literature is just as lonely as being passionate about films. Or maybe a little more so. At least most Joe Blows do go to cinemas for films as some social exercise. Any attempt to have a meaningful or deep discussion about the film will be futile. People will look at me as if I had farted loudly in a funeral.

Because they rarely happen, being able to go into in-depth discussions about films, filmmakers, or literary works, authors, can be a very pleasurable experience. Perhaps that is why I am often on Facebook and Twitter. Or why I often surf film websites and go through the comments section. Just to find and read about discussions that I can never seem to have in real life.

(Perhaps if I were a banker, I wouldn't have to deal with such a dilemma, no?)

Yesterday, Maggie Lee, film critic of Variety, tweeted this link to a book review:

I was intrigued too, especially after reading the last paragraph of the review.

Readers pleased by cliff-hanging, nail-biting, page-turning adventure will not be satisfied with "Atlas." Devotees of writers as curious as Borges, Calvino and Eco, will love this map of maps of an imaginary city.

Sounded a little like Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings.

So a conversation occurred.

(If you folks were wondering. The first Eco book I read was his first novel, THE NAME OF THE ROSE. I think that was around 2006. A year later, I read his final novel THE MYSTERIOUS FLAME OF QUEEN LOANA, and actually wrote down some of my thoughts. I was very young and impressionable.)

(My Perth years from 2004 to 2006 was a great period of time when I found myself exposed to a large number of great literature. Some of my most cherished memories of the place was wandering in the numerous bookshops in Fremantle, and then the Borders and Dymocks in Perth City.)

(I read HARDBOILED WONDERLAND 2 years ago, when I was at Brignogan, France. Alone in my hotel by the sea. It's a lovely place.)

Golden field of Brignogan 4

Hanneke before the sunrise

(She meant the Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai, to the uninitiated)

(Certain posts in this blog written in 2006-2007 had shown that I'm far from a Murakami fanatic. But I think my stance had softened lately. I actually enjoyed the first 100 pages of 1Q84, even though I haven't continued reading.

Perhaps After Dark was the turning point.)

(I have a lot of fondness for CHUNGKING EXPRESS. And still think that FALLEN ANGELS had one of the most romantic endings in cinematic history, ever.)

(Sadly, I'm a non-fan of the LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA film adaptation)

(I mentioned this intense reading experience here. I don't think many people really believed that I finish the book in one sitting.)

(Maggie was referring to the 1990 Chinese film BLOODY MORNING by Li Shaohong. Really want to catch this.)

(The world shudders.)

(This is the trailer for the first McDull movie. Came out in 2001.)

And this is when Twitch's Matthew Lee (no relations to Maggie, haha) joined in the discussion.

(The last time I met Maggie and Matthew was in Tallin, Estonia, during Christmas Eve, after I participated in the "60 SECONDS OF SOLITUDE IN YEAR ZERO" omnibus project.)

(Didn't see Prince De La Bun. But I often quote the bird w/o legs from WKW's DAYS OF BEING WILD in an overdramatic manner, but fortunately without doing the subsequent dance.)