A Song Flung Up to Heaven – Maya Angelou

February 16, 2010 § 8 Comments

I asked for the music, then invited it to enter my body and find the broken and sore places and restore them. That it would blow through my mind and dispel the fogs. I let the music move me around the dance floor.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven is the sixth and final book in Maya Angelou’s series of memoirs, starting, of course, with the very well-known I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing. I came across a review of that first book at Another Cookie Crumbles not too long ago, and because she liked the book so much, I decided to pick this one up earlier than I had planned. It did not disappoint.

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The Sum of Our Days – Isabel Allende

February 11, 2010 § 10 Comments

There is no lack of drama in my life, I have more than enough three-ring-circus material for writing…

The Sum of Our Days is more or less a sequel to Isabel Allende’s earlier memoir, Paula, which was written very shortly after her daugther Paula passed away. This book, she wrote 13 years after that fateful incident, in which she describes to Paula’s spirit the things that have happened after her death.

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Self-Made Man – Norah Vincent

January 26, 2010 § 11 Comments

The tagline for this book reads: “One woman’s journey into manhood and back again”.

Translating that, Norah Vincent lives 18 months of her life disguised as a man. Ned, Norah’s man-name, goes places and joins clubs normally exclusively or predominantly male. As Ned, he joins a men’s bowling league, visits strip clubs, dates women (not that as Norah she doesn’t do that already), retreats to a monastery, and even goes to men’s workshops (places where they talk about emotions, not unlike AA, apparently).

The experience, to say the least, is one of a kind.

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[GN] Fun Home – Alison Bechdel

January 14, 2010 § 8 Comments


What can I say about this book? I’ve finished it for quite a while now, but I just didn’t know what I could write about it, and therefore put it off till now.

Maybe I can start with if I enjoyed it. Well, I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. It wasn’t as ha-ha funny as I had hoped it would be, and given the title of the book, Fun Home, it wasn’t as – well, fun! – as I thought it would be.

Having said that though. Now, a few days after putting down the book, I can’t help but think that the book was just fan-tastic.

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[GN] Embroideries – Marjane Satrapi

January 11, 2010 § 4 Comments


What do you say about a book that’s hilarious, real and conversational, while at the same time offers insights to what women think, and what they talk about when they’re gathered together for afternoon tea?

Oh wait. I just said it all.

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami

August 8, 2009 § 9 Comments


This book is, technically speaking, my true first Murakami book. I *found* this book quite some time ago as I was browsing the local bookstore while waiting for a friend. I read the first chapter there and then, and decided that I will hunt it down in the libraries to read the rest of it.

Since then, I’ve read Murakami’s Dance Dance Dance, and it’s only now, after about one month or so, that I am finally able to sit down quietly to enjoy this book. Because that’s exactly what this book calls for; quiet, alone time to slowly take in the words and phrases that are contained within.

This book is not about running.

In my opinion, a quote found early in this book sums up quite nicely what I think the book is about. In Murakami’s own words:

I’m often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder this question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? I don’t have a clue.

This book reads like a conversation. I felt it so strongly throughout the book: Murakami sitting in front of me on a wooden, average-height stool, me on a cushioned chair; Murakami leaning forward at times, and at others gesturing rather wildly with his hands to drive home a point. I felt like he was talking to me.

The details in this memoir did not necessarily have to be hidden secrets now revealed for the whole world to know. But it had an intimacy that I appreciated much throughout the narrative. He was telling me about his thoughts, about how he found his motivation, about his ups and downs. He was telling me about his life in general, with all the mundane bits that make the narrative even more engaging.

I don’t imagine that everyone would like this kind of book. In fact, I can even see in my head some people I know who would fall asleep on the book not even a quarter way through.

But here’s the thing. That Murakami can write a memoir on such a mundane topic (ie. running), run off in all directions to talk about all things under the sun in between running stints, and still keep the flow of the narrative so natural speaks volumes of this man’s writing skills.

He mentioned that as a marathon, long-distance runner, which is what he is, keeping the pace and rhythm is everything. I reckon it shines out in his writing too.

Postscript: Somewhere in the middle of this book, I suddenly became aware of how the structure of the sentences and paragraphs had such a Japanese feel to them, that I could almost hear Japanese speech jumping right out of the pages. (I watch a lot of Japanese anime, and so naturally, I listen to a lot of Japanese speech, though I understand only a small fraction of it)

I think we don’t nearly appreciate the translators enough, or as often as we should. Philip Gabriel did a fantastic job.

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