Who is John Updike?

Read about his death in the papers, and his Rabbit novels from Amazon.  Have thought they were like ‘Watership Down’ kind of novels, with real rabbits as characters, but it seems to be someone with a Rabbit nickname.  Never read his books or heard of him before, saw some of his novels displayed on racks at the Borders entrance, most are hard covers – like the Rabbit series, The Widows of Eastwick, The Witches of Eastwick, and a book on poems.  I was actually searching for a title I really wanted to read so as to make good use of my end-of-the-month-expiring book voucher.  In the end I got myself ‘Confessions of a Yakuza” from my wishlist.

What kind of a writer was he?  His settings about postcolonial Africa, WWII, postwar, idealistic careers and early marriages seemed to be very similar with Doris Lessing’s subjects, as well as E. M. Forster’s – not easy to digest kind of reads.  Any good recommendations?

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Sunday Salon: New Year 2009 Reads

Yesterday I finished reading “The Oxford Murder” by Guillermo Martinez, which was a Bookcrossing ray I joined last year.  Very enjoyable read, though I do not have the head for numbers, I definitely have learnt something about Phythagora’s theorem, and what is a monard, vesica piscis etc…  It’s a perfect crime, as what the book says, was not one that remained unsolved, but one where the wrong person was blamed.  In the end the truth was told, only after the police case was closed thinking another person was the murderer.  Interesting read, though I skipped those maths and codes analysis chapters.

Another book was “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.  It’s about a father-and-son’s journey together on a lonely road together after an apocalyptic event.  It’s a love hate book, as some may not like the style of writing which has no mention about what really happened for them to start that journey, but it’s actually the process that intrigues me to carry on reading, and how they struggle to survive in a world no longer capable of sustaining life.  Along the way, they have to avoid running into militants and cannibals.  Once they came upon an underground cell with refugees locked there crying for help, yet they couldn’t do anything to help them.  These refugees are there waiting to be eaten.  Like one bookcrosser said it’s a dog eat dog world when the society has completely broken down.  The journey also shows the love between father and son, and in the end the father finally succumbs to the illness that has plagued him from the beginning and died leaving the boy alone to continue his own journey.  The whole book is a sad read. 

Heard that the film adaption was good, Going to watch it, and compare with the book.  Also because the father was portrayed by Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings).  This will be the 2nd movie I watched by the actor.

 

Now I’m starting on “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom.  Seems there’s also a movie on it, starring Jeannette Clift as Corrie, Julie Harris as Betsie and Arthur O’Connell as Papa Ten Boom.  Never heard of these names.  This complete and unabridged copy came all the way from Northern Canada, with a letter written in the midst of very bitter cold spell at a -28c.  I’m so glad and at the same time touched reading the letter.  Though it’s really very different from Singapore where it’s summer most of the time, I can imagine how cold it’s like.  Lately the wind here is also uncommonly strong and the air is also quite cold.  Though our hair is ruffled when outside, I still like the cool air as it means going out under the sun is still quite cooling, and we can save on our electricity bill.  And it’s comfortable snuggling in bed in this weather.

The Duggar Family

A colleague sent me this link http://www.duggarfamily.com about an amazing family, Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar, who are blessed with 18 children; with their 18th child just born last month on the 18th Dec 2008.  And as a family project the Duggars has built a 7000 sq. ft. home debt free for their household of 20 members.  And looking at the house, it’s like a country club, hotel, church, game arcade and every other facilities you can think of all under one roof.  How nice to live in such a fine & comfortable house every single day.  Wonder if the children go to school, as I believed they will also have a school-room in their home if they are home-taught.  What a happy family.

Check out the photos to view their 7000 sq. ft. home in the US.  It’s real big and spacious.

New Year Resolutions 2009

3 more weeks to go before Chinese New Year, and I’m already starting on my first resolution of the year to lose some weight (By the way it’s always the same every year).  Hopefully when the festive season comes, even if not model-slim I would still be able to fit into some of the clothes which I couldn’t wear previously.

Of course, looking at the piles of books in my room, my next resolution is also to be able to clear away some of the old books before I buy new ones.  I could never resist buying books when visiting a bookstore.  New arrived books are always on the shelf faster than my reading them.   My room is already a place of disaster, with so many things lying around everywhere, and it’s really time to clear away the mess and clutters.

As CNY is approaching, I have to start spring cleaning the whole house.  I have packed away loads of plastic bags full of mess from my room which include flyers, brochures, Reader’s Digest personal letters and other stuff which I have accumulated over the year and never discard immediately.  Just the other day I was trying to move a small table to the side of my bed, in my enthusiasm I forgot there’s a drawer at the front.  Imagine I was carrying up the table and out came the drawer and down crashed onto my left foot – Bang!  Ouch, it’s painful.  Thank God after that I could still walk, though with a blue-black still vivid until now.

And 2 days before this incident, I was also trying to take down an IKEA plastic shelf from my built-in book shelf.  Down came all the paper-bags which I collect, and struck my head and face.  No damage done, just wonder what’s next to come.

Well, days before Chinese New Year are always the busiest time for us, as it’s a major holiday for the Chinese family, and there’s a lot of preparation to be done.  A lot of cleaning up to do, getting new furnishings to the house, buying decorations and goodies etc…  And our kitchen ceiling is also showing signs of cracks and raining spalling concrete, so it’s also time to get contractors to do repair works and put a new coat of paint to the whole place, so to be ready for the celebration.

So back to my NY resolutions, hopefully I’ll be able to fulfill at least the above 2 first before they become unfulfilled resolutions again next year, then set new ones after.  Just wonder why the beginning of the New Year always has this strange hold over us, huh?  There’s always an impetus to start afresh, break old habits, do things better and achieve more goals in life etc.  Whatever the reasons, let me wish everyone, regardless of race, nationality and culture, a good year ahead and a Happy & Prosperous Lunar New Year, and hope that God will let the economic tsunami pass in an exciting New Year.