Archives For Books

lugar-llamado-nada-amy-tanTitled in English as Saving Fish from Drowning (not the literal translation), Amy Tan tells the story of a group of American tourists traveling to Myanmar that are reported to have disappeared. Telling the story is Bibi Chen, the leader of the touring group who mysteriously died before the trip. Of course, Bibi is traveling with them and knows stuff before it happens because she’s a spirit.

I haven’t read such a bad book since I graduated high school. You know, when the school reading guides point what you should be reading, so you feel like you HAVE to read it. It’s a horrible way to read, and this book reminded me of that feeling. And it’s not like I hate the book because it’s over 600 pages — because kamisama knows I’ve read Order of the Phoenix 3 times when I was a Harry Potter fan, but the book combines a few elements that I hate…

1. your typical mindless tourist (especially the American ones) who think they know better than anyone. Case and point, Wendy who pretends to visit Myanmar “touring” while also talking to students and finding more against the Myanmar government. Not only is she endangering herself, but the people traveling with her and who have no idea she’s one of those self-righteous Human Rights defenders. If you don’t like the way the country handles itself, just don’t visit the country and don’t waste your money.

2. Irresponsible journalists who only care about selling the story, because that was Belinda’s intentions… to sell the story, win a Peabody and Emmys. Screw the lost tourist, the Myanmar Army can shoot them if they want, right? Even if they’re not with the rebels? I hate those self-righteous defenders of the truth, when all they can do is report the events subjectively.

3. I know people are stupid, but couldn’t the characters be more easy to relate to? By the time I wanted to care about people like Heidi, I just didn’t care. Harry was an idiot. From the moment they decided to ditch the official itinerary, I decided to ditch them. I said it out-loud, I hoped all of them died.

4. OBHWF effect. The ending was bad, like conveniently bad.

I mean I can’t remember (since finishing high school) reading a book that made me lose interesting so fast. I hated all the characters, they were pathetic, and whoever described this as a “comedy of errors” is certainly crazy. I would detest having to travel with this bunch of people. I mean, really? Peeing on the ruins? It’s stupid decision after stupid decision, and that’s the worse characters you could possibly have, unless you plan to kill them.

The book is over! But I still think you should have killed 85% of your characters.

By the by, that North American in Peru? She killed people, she should be sentenced to it as well… just so whichever of the characters who mentioned it knows.

2/5

haruki-murakami-after-darkThis is the Spanish edition of Haruki Murakami’s book also titled with the same name. It tells a bizarre real-time (think of Fox’s 24) story surrounding a 19-year-old named Mari who sits at a random Denny’s restaurant in the middle of the night, when a dude comes by telling her they’ve met once before, he’s a friend of Mari’s older sister, Eri. At the same time, Eri is seen in a neverending sleep, as if she never wanted to wake up again.

To be honest, I didn’t really get the chapters that described Eri’s bizarre sleeping sequences. At first, it was kind of scary, but it just didn’t do much for me in the end. I did really enjoy Mari, though. I wanted to know more about her… perhaps because I can relate effing around at a Denny’s in the middle of the night. Sometimes I would go there — maybe call a friend, or stop by a friend who lived around it — get something to eat or drink and waste time. I would also go on the longest walks around town with a friend at 2am, taking photographs or ending up at the local playground sitting on the swings. I still miss those.

Anyway, I digress. What I wanna say is that I could see a bit of me in Mari, so I wanted to read more about her. I thought all the stuff related (people, not incidents) to the Love Hotel was very interesting… Kaoru, Korogi and Komugi. And Takahashi made me laugh.

I gotta admit that this would play out nicely on a movie, though. While reading it, I was imagining Yu Aoi as Mari — I know she’s way too old for the role, but she can pull it off LOL — there was also Eita as Takahashi (tall, skinny and a feeling like you can tell him stuff), Shizuyo Yamasaki as Kaoru, Mikako Ichikawa as Korogi… and I had a dilemma whether to choose Asami Mizukawa or Kou Shibasaki as Eri. The good thing is that in the book everyone says Mari and Eri are very different. Mari is never considered gorgeous like her model sister Eri, so I could get away with any of the two. You could sense that Mari is pretty, but not in the “omg-she’s-so-hot” kind of way. I feel like Shibasaki would fit better as an older sister to Aoi’s Mari, however, Mizukawa is 2 years older than Aoi (same age difference with the characters) and I think fits better the whole “hot” factor. Plus, both Shibasaki and Mizukawa have shared the screen with Eita already. xD

As for the Chinese character, I dunno. Maybe Sandrine Pinna? I know it’s a pretty small role, but she’s sorta the same age as Aoi. I think it’s a tough role though, but it’d be interesting to see what the on-screen chemistry is on that particular scene at the Love Hotel. As for the other Chinese dude, I was thinking Chen Chang~~~ as for the office worker guy, I know he’s supposed to be in his 30s, but would I be pushing it if I’d say Abe Hiroshi feels like a good choice?

I want this movie made. Ha! With this cast! Make it happen Murakami-san!

haruki-murakami-sur-frontera-oeste-solOtherwise known in English as “South of the Border, West of the Sun,” it tells the story of Hajime who meets with a childhood friend he hasn’t met in the last 25 years. Her name is Shimamoto, and Hajime is contemplating leaving his wife and daughters to be with her.

To be really honest, when I was reading 20-year-old-Hajime, I felt I was reading myself. Except I’m not a dude. But I did feel that way. Actually, I could also relate with the fact that he was an only child. The way his head worked, his personality… it reminded me of me.

However, unlike Hajime… I think ahead. LOL — I really didn’t know whether to shout at him, or roll my eyes when he began cheating on Izumi. But I’m also forced to admit that I was actually hoping he would get together with Shimamoto, and I actually had to stop reading the two last chapters because I was feeling his desperation. She is never coming back, and she’s trying to erase everything that will remind you of her.

I wanted to know what was up with Shimamoto, I was expecting a big revelation, instead I got a bucket of cold water.

Other than that reading experience? My moral compass (do I really have one? After all, people have already called me a Fascist) tells me that Shimamoto was wrong, but as she explains… she couldn’t help herself. She had to see him, and she had to talk to him. I wonder if the book would be as “popular” if it were written in the perspective of a woman going about her teens cheating on her boyfriend with his cousin, and then cheating on her husband with her childhood crush.

I love to hate or hate to love that last chapter on the emptiness. 4/5

kyoichi-katayama-un-grito-de-amor-desde-el-centro-del-mundoSo this month I bought a whole (and I mean like half a dozen) books because I felt like I had been spending all my money on music and movies, and had stopped reading. To be honest, I was beginning to feel like I was being a little ignorant on everything that had to do with books xD

So I grabbed everything Asian I could find on the shelf, including this Alfaguara Spanish translation of Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World (aka Socrates in Love, aka SEKACHU in short Katakana xD) by Kyoichi Katayama. The book sprang a manga series, as well as a film (starring Masami Nagasawa, Mirai Moriyama and Kou Shibasaki), and a TV drama… as well as other Asian remakes, namely Korean. xD

The book is about the tragic young love of Sakutaro and Aki, and it was apparently very well-received by the public in Japan because of its theme. The Spanish translation is a bit idiotic, some of the words used are very Mexican in use, so I didn’t really know what it meant. The story is super short, but it expands a long period of time so the story feels rushed and characters are barely examined.

For example, I’m not really sure why should I care much for Aki, other than Sakutaro having a crush (or being in love with her), I am led to believe she is good nature, a good student, shy, and a regular kawaii girl, but I’ve no idea what makes her tick, what are her passions. I don’t relate to her… or him. I know he cares for her, I also know he contemplated getting under her panties or wanted to touch her. I know they are supposed to have developed a deep friendship, but it’s not on the book. I know people begin to see them as one, and I’m a sucker for this type of relationships, but it’s not on the book.

If I want to see sweet tragic love, I’ll get Sweet November (though, I haven’t read the book), but the movie starring Charlize Theron and Keanu Reeves (though badly received by critics) made me so sad.

2/5

1434 by Gavin Menzies

October 10, 2009 — 3 Comments

1434 by Gavin MenziesI was browsing books at the local bookstore (weeks ago) and picked up a copy of Gavin Menzies’ book 1434 in Spanish, well because it’s hard to look away with a caption like “The Year a Chinese Fleet reached Italy and started the Renaissance.” I’m not a book reader, I’m not a historian, and I’ve learnt to take everything I read or hear or see (documentaries) with a grain of salt… even more so when my sources tell me “they are free and independent” because I know how the media works. I hate journalists, and I hate news reporters…

To be honest, I’m very likely to believe things written on this book, because at this point in time I have a very deep dislike with everything dealing with the West.

You gotta admit that’s a pretty bold statement, and it is interesting. If you think Menzies is full of shit for saying this, what makes you think anything written anywhere else is true? Take my school days as example. When I was around 13, we used to have a Chinese Culture class where we learned about Chinese geography, a bit of history, folk tales. In this class we learned about The 4 Great Chinese Inventions. Later the same week, we would get History class on universal history, where they would tell us Gutenberg invented Printing. So, what the fuck. What gives?

So should I believe one or the other? Why should I believe one over the other? This is all I have to say after reading a lot of hate towards 1421 (Menzies’ first book).

Fact is, there are some similarities between indigenous people in Peru and across the Altiplano, and the Amazon, and minorities in China, Taiwan and all across South East Asia. And you didn’t have to read the book to notice that, you only need to watch the news, and documentaries to see their cultures, rituals and physical traits.

On the book itself… it’s a pretty messy read. Like a experimental film edited to jump back and forth, only in written form. Book could’ve been shorter and more straight to the point, instead of musing over Menzies activities. I don’t fucking care if you were a sailor, or if you went with your family to the DaVinci’s exhibits around the world. LOL

The illustrations and other image inserts is also a mess. I hate it and makes the book very amateur, but I think all these books suffer from the same crap. Cheap design. After all, it’s all about content, right? Whatever.

Rating: 3/5