So in the middle of volunteering for MWF 2010, where I got to hug Bryce Courtenay at The Wheeler Centre, take photographs for Eduardo Antonio Parra at ACMI and assist Terry Denton with running illustration workshops at Birrarung Marr, I managed to read five books. When I begin to read , I can’t be bothered to eat or sleep and even find the necessity of basic bodily functions annoying so I generally end up fueling myself with endless cups of caffeine-laced coffee and also water when dehydration seems imminent which is why I can probably finish a 800 page novel in a couple of days.
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
This second novel by the author of best-selling novel, The Kite Runner, explores the war landscape in Afghanistan this time through the eyes of two female protagonists, Mariam and Laila. It is a tragic, depressing and heart-wrenching story of grim desolation and wasted potential with vivid, compelling characters placed in circumstances beyond their control. If you can stomach stories of martyrdom and sacrifice, it is worth reading at least for the glimpse of daily life in Kabul, prior to and during the harsh regime of the Taliban.
Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
Exploring three countries beginning with the letter I ( namely Italy, India and Indonesia) , Elizabeth Gilbert recounts how she recovers from depression after going through a complicated divorce in New York. In Italy she spends time eating food, locating the best meals in town from grocers, fishmongers and fruit and vegetable vendors. Next in an ashram in India, she harnesses the power of meditation drawn from different religions and uses it to find peace within herself. Then in Indonesia where she gives her company to an old medicine man, she finds someone to love. If you like stories that celebrate free spirit and encourage pursuing that unrelenting need for change , this is your oyster.
The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
The next thriller Robert Langdon finds himself mixed up in has author Dan Brown getting his readers bogged down into a theological adventure involving the history of the Freemasons. Failing to double-check an invitation to speak at the U.S. Capitol Building by someone claiming to be a colleague of his friend, Peter Solomon, has him suddenly thrust into a clandestine world of mystery locations, forgotten lore and well-kept secrets in pursuit of an all-encompassing truth. Unfortunately he has to do this code-breaking business while battling against a deadly villain whose identity is unfortunately far too predictable.
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
My first impression of this book was “my god, what a lot of sex and cunnilingus!”. Nevertheless I suppose if your husband was the type that disappeared in sporadic bursts either into the past or into the future and you had no guarantee of his return, you would probably make the most of intimate moments. Science fiction is something I usually fiercely detest unless it is that of a supernatural bent, so as an extension of the genre I rather enjoyed this romance between Henry De Tamble, the librarian and Clare Abshire, the artist, as it was refreshingly different.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player and pacifist searches New York for the lock that will match a mysterious key in an envelope with the word “Black” on it left by his late father who was a victim of the September 11 attack. His grandparents’ tale of woe which centers on the Dresden firebombing intertwines with the quest which drives the plot. The narrative I found to be moving without being cheaply sentimental but the typographical stunts and gimmicks like the two page numerical code soliloquy while daring kind of annoyed and distracted me from its essence.
I have been watching old DVDs I’ve missed out on voraciously during the winter. The source of my pleasure ( a fine public institution despite occasional walk-ins by people with bad body odour ) provides them free of charge. So I’ve found myself borrowing 4 per week and as some are 3-hour length Bollywood dramas ended up giving a rude shock to my regular sleeping pattern.
I have a new found love for film adaptations of classics (otherwise known as period dramas) . This started after I was introduced to the BBC mini-series North and South set in industrialist Victorian England. It is based on a little-known 19th century novel by Elizabeth Gaskell about the class divide. If you are getting curious and hungry for more like a series sneak peek, click this.
Well, I definitely had triggered my appetite for this genre and next stumbled upon Tess of the D’urbervilles BBC film, adapted from Hardy’s classic with sexy Hans Matheson starring as the cad, Alec, and the boyish Eddie Redmayne as the confused and hapless Angel Clare. If you are looking for more juice on the plot as it is new to you, click this (Spoiler Alert! : article reveals ending.)
I read the book a few days later which is not typical of my practice and felt they had made Alec more of a jerk and Angel appear far less cruel than he sounds in the book … ( Not to mention that in the film Hans is much better looking than Eddie.)
Next I discovered Vanity Fair starring Reese Witherspoon as social climber, Becky Sharp, and a rather dapper looking Jonathan Rhys Meyers ( especially in uniform) as George Osborne adapted from Thackeray’s ‘novel without a hero’.
They have substantially changed the character of Becky so if you did not like the Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock Holmes, you probably will not like Mira Nair’s stylistic changes to the book .
Note: the chilli episode will make you giggle.
Glasses became an inevitable part of my life when I turned twelve. The myopic gene was passed on to me as both my mother and father were short-sighted. For a teenager in the formative years of her life, this was a tragedy. Perhaps glasses are in and trendy in the West as nerdiness has reached new heights of cool but in the East where I grew up, big wide, unobstructed eyes were the norm. Rather rebelliously I tried to satisfy myself by indulging in vanity and satisfying my ego despite my poor vision. This penchant did me no favours as my sight deteriorated.
To make things worse, I’d chosen gaudy, green plastic frames with round lenses which made my face look like a certain boy wizard who has an uncanny resemblance to my dad .
He has also been said to resemble Shahrukh Khan and Jackie Chan to boot (perhaps he should resign from his rural GP practice and globe-trot to filming destinations as a body double for all these actors he looks like – apparently).
I like to be able to distinguish the attractive from the hideous, especially when inebriated with copious amounts of vodka.
Okay that might be shallow – but don’t say you haven’t gone there.
Anyway my suffering was cut short on the afternoon of my 24th birthday when I scheduled my surgery. I’d become used to contacts by then.
Unfortunately they limited my swimming and other water sport activities.
This was the first time I was given Xanax. Best legal prescription pill ever – saw dancing halos above the operating bed (much better than one half-pill of something illicit I once took for my first and the last time which only gave me a queasy feeling and had me end up on my knees, puking into a toilet bowl).
One hour later, my eyes were bandaged and protective goggles placed over my eyes which were stuck with adhesive tape. Coming out in a post-operative daze , looking like an out of place extra in a horror film, I braved the walk home.
Sleeping soundly from 5 pm until 9 am the next morning, when my protective covering for the eyes were taken off, I could see the St.Kilda trams in Fitzroy St from where I stood in the kitchen. I’d never been able to see them from that distance before .
It was perfect timing as I’d booked in for a photography camp at Port Campbell the next day. Too bad now it’s so cold and windy that I don’t even want to swim on the rooftop pool…