the pencil reads

posts on articles, books and movies


Tuesday, August 29, 2006
This is long overdue. The day Jim posted this list, I looked up the books in the online catalogue, trooped down to the library, and got the book that made him laugh and the book that made him cry. From the sentence above, I wouldn't blame you if you thought that I was interested in him in that sensitive, new-age "who are you really, inside?" kinda way, but really, even if you were interested in him in that funky way, I don't think reading these two books will help much. You'll have probably have to read though a little library, read the bible cover-to-back at least five times, AND watch an entire series of Veggie Tales to get close to the answer. Anyway, back to the books.

Shopgirl by Steve Martin is entertaining. It is an old-fashioned story about love that doesn't say anything new, yet manages to take you by surprise with its comedy. The characters remain with you. I found myself trying to determine the most efficient way to juggle my errands when I suddenly realised that I was exactly like Ray Porter.

Plainsong by Kent Haruf came with the recommendation of Eric as well. I was afraid of crying so I read it very slowly and hesitantly, pausing frequently in the lilting story because I did not want to get too caught up.

I didn't cry after all. But I was won over by the two crusty bachelors in the novel. They were described in such an endearing and sweet way that it made me chuckle, and then melt.

Plainsong celebrates the role of community in a stark, harsh world. It manages to be both realistic yet idealistic, depressing yet optimistic. The story-telling is simple, and the flow seamless.

This is a good book. It is worth the read. :)

The Constant Gardener

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Constant Gardener
is described on the cover as a "suspense thriller" with an "unforgettable ending".

When my buddy recited that to me from memory, I burst out laughing because it sounded so strange. An `unforgettable ending' is the kind of phrase that doesn't say very much. Why was it unforgettable? Was it poignant? Was it hilarious? Was there a twist? Was it impacting? The phrase is also not effective because it negates a negative term, making it only neutral at best, apologetic at worst. So it was not forgettable, is that really something worth mentioning?

Anyway, The Constant Gardener was a suspense thriller in the British-kinda way, i.e. without the Hollywood adrenaline-pumping car chases and spectacular explosions we've all become used to. The suspense in this movie is pulled forward only by its plot, slowly and persistently towards its "unforgettable ending".

It is an alright show. A lot of it is set in Africa, so the backdrop is colourful and the music full of drums. In any case, it rescued me from the tedium of a weekday night.