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New York, New York, United States
"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let the Great World Spin

Column McCann is master evoker of the human spirit. I don't really think he's a storyteller, he's more of an analyst of emotion, and boy, does he do it well. In 1974, Phillipe Petit constructs a high wire strung between the two towers of the World Trade Center, and in the early morning hours, he proceeds to walk, dance and even lie down upon it. When questioned why, he said "when I see oranges, I want to juggle them. When I see towers, I want to walk between them." This event becomes the core center of the novel, as different characters, seemingly unconnected, live out their lives while this extraordinary event occurs.

As McCann points out: New York isn't a city that wallows in the past. We don't build many monuments or cherish history the way older European cities do. What we revel in are flash-in-the-pan theatricals. Wild and effusive displays that compel people to marvel and think, "only in New York." To me, this is the most apt description of New York City that I've ever come across. Each of the characters, in their varied struggles, are trying to make more sense of their existences, but really, it's simply a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, balancing on the ever-tricky high wire of life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sprawl II

'Cause on the surface the city lights shine
They're calling at me, come and find your kind
Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small
Can we ever get away from the sprawl

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kafka on the Shore

"Inside our head...there's a little room where we store these memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you'll live forever in your own private library."

This last little bit of this eminently wonderful novel really opened my mind. I've spent so many of these past few months yearning to seclude myself, in effect, to live in a private library, that it didn't occur to me that seclusion of that sort can be unhealthy. If we let our minds root, following the same paths day in an day out, dwelling on the past, letting ideas and emotions grow stale, then we of course can't expect our lives to course-correct. Fate exists, yes, but it's in all of us to wrest our futures into our own making.

This is what this book taught me, and for that, I am deeply indebted.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Fine Balance

In short, this is a novel that will break your heart. Doesn't sound very appealing, right? But maybe it isn't meant to be. Often life can be seen as a series of twists and turns - events that were perhaps fated to be and others that drop on you like bolts of lightning.

A Fine Balance tells the tale of four people from varying backgrounds. Maneck is a student from the beautiful mountain region of India; a middle-class boy with a good heart and thin skin. Dina Dalal is in her 40s, living alone in a home made absent by the death of her husband twenty years prior. She is stubbornly independent and down to earth. To save her eyesight from going completely, she hires two tailors who journey from their remote village to work for her. From a lowly caste, this remarkably stalwart uncle and nephew team struggle to leave behind their torturous past to ascend the difficult caste ladder and make a better life for themselves. The four eventually all come to live under Dina's roof, which in turn provides a safe haven from the horrors of India in the 1970's.

The year that follows is one of my deep happiness, despite hard work, money troubles and encroaching governmental practices. Mistry teaches us that the joys of friendship, humor and patience can keep even the most vicious wolves at bay.

But inevitably, the happiness ends. And horror and sorrow encroach. And my heart is quite literally broken thinking of their respective fates.

Beautiful beautiful beautiful but heart-wrenching book.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Chap - We Work in Bars

this song is strangely catchy

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lost - The End

I don't usually post on anything here besides book reviews, music videos and photos, buuuut the conclusion of Lost deserves a special post. All season, I've been writing a series of emails analyzing/ruminating on each episode. Here is the final email:

The end of an era, everyone. I am devastated that this brilliant show is over. Seriously, I feel like I just went through a wrenching breakup. I was exhausted while watching the finale -- one moment gasping, another laughing, but most of all sobbing like a baby (really not kidding. Just about every two seconds, my eyes welled up). I honestly believe that the writers did a truly wonderful job of tying together many of the loose ends. Yes, many questions will remain unanswered, but the truths that were important were the ones that were revealed to us.

Here are a few of the best lines of the finale, many of which pointed to the final "twist" of the series, and many of which were simply great:

"Nothing is irreversible" -- Kate to Jack. The same words Jack says to Locke before he fixes him.

"I'll see you on the other side" Jack says to Locke before going into surgery

"That's a hell of a long con, Doc" -- Sawyer says to Jack. In many ways, the entire alt timeline/sideways world is a bit of a long con, for us, the viewers :)

"You can't let other people tell you who you are. You have to decide for yourself" -- Hurley to Sayid.

"You disrespect his memory by wearing his face" -- Jack to Not Locke

"I don't believe in a lot of things, but I do believe in duct tape" -- Miles

"DON'T BOTHER ME!!" -- Lapidus to basically everyone

"It worked" -- Juliet to Sawyer

"Everything that's ever happened to you is real." -- Christian to Jack

Final thoughts:

I don't believe many of the big questions need to be answered. (i.e., why can't women stay pregnant on the island, what was the point of the dharma initiative, why/how was Walt "special," why there were Egyptian symbols all over the island) This show doesn't need to answer everything. Many of these concepts can be attributed to the enigma that is the island. Sure, some people want a clear-cut answer, but I'm not one of them. The whole point is that this show was based purely on the show creators' mythology.

It took me a moment to figure out Desmond's purpose on the island. Because of his ability to withstand intense amounts of electromagnetism, he was able to wade to the center of cave, and literally uncork the light, thus initiating the destruction of the island, and more importantly, making Not Locke human.

Hurley is the final candidate! Really didn't see that one coming. And in a way, it makes perfect sense. Hurley, with his all-encompassing love, his good nature, his big heart. And Ben as his "number two." Brilliant. Ben is the steel, the brains, the loyalty.

We are left to wonder at the future of those that were able to escape the island -- namely, Kate, Claire, Sawyer, Lapidus, Miles and Richard. And we are also left wondering how long Hurley remained the candidate, who was elected afterward and what Ben and Desmond did on the island for the rest of their lives. To be truthful, I like not knowing. Their futures are ones that we, the audience can imagine on our own.

Many of the "flashes" they all experienced were really quite beautiful to watch. (Okay fine, some were over-the-top cheese). But, in a way, each "flash" was a tribute to the years we have spent with these characters, watching them grow with one another.

I believe that Jack was the hardest to get to "flash" because of his nature. Simply put, the strength of his own convictions got in the way, just like on the island. He can be so pigheadedly stubborn, but once he is convinced of his path, he is able to let go with a perfectly clear conscience. I thought it was particularly poignant that the room where he reconnects with his father, Christian, contained all the religious symbols of the world.

Jack dying in the original spot that he woke up in was a stroke of genius. And Vincent!! Seeing that perpetually happy dog settle down next to Jack as he was dying just about broke my heart. I'm sure the dog gave Jack a measure of comfort, as did the sight of the Ajira plane taking off.

The end of this show was a work of art. It was a truly beautiful concept -- the fact that these people, their love for one another, was so strong that they created a "world" where they could all be together; a kind of metaphysical stopgap between living and death. Yes, whatever happened happened and yes, they all died in the original timeline, whether it was on the island, or some time in the future off the island. Yet they came to this place in the end to find one another, to reconnect, to experience the sheer joy of What Could Have Been. Not everyone is there. Some are ready to move on, while others need to bide their time. In the end, they gave themselves the opportunity to just be together. Lost is truly an inimitable study of human nature, of the ties that bind us all.

Lastly, a very large part of the reason why I loved this show so much was the escapism factor. To me, escapism is a way to imagine a world so foreign to us, that it requires a true leap of faith to believe in it. I believed in this show, in this world, in these characters. It took me to a place I couldn't ever have dreamed of myself. Thanks, guys, for letting me share my long-winded and often ridiculous thoughts on this show. It's been a great ride.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Oscar's family suffers from a serious case of fuku, a traditional Dominican term for bad luck. Like the shit-out-of, you're absolutely screwed, may as well write your will kind of bad luck. This extraordinary novel jumps from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey, gliding effortlessly across time, in a raw and honest portrayal of one family's fight against fate.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to make of this book after the first page. Then, the language sucked me in. Diaz has managed to write with literary prowess while instilling an earthy conversational appeal. His Lord of the Rings and Encyclopedia Brown references alone had me giddy with joy. His frequent use of Spanish, nerdology and modern-day lingo makes for a heady mix of wordskill that I couldn't get enough of.

And what a story! I felt for poor, fat Oscar and his lovesick earnestness, sympathized with Lola's plight, marveled at Beli's extraordinary childhood. Diaz tied together the story's elements in a truly unique way, and ended the tale intelligently; that is, to say, realistically.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Know

the swirly summery strings in the intro match today's weather perfectly

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Widow for One Year

A Widow for One year is divided into two sections. The first depicts a watershed summer in the year of 1958. Ted and Marion Cole are grieving over the horrific deaths of their two teenage sons, whose presence is saturated in the sad household in the form of dozens of photographs. Their daughter, little 4-year-old Ruth Cole grows up surrounded by these memories, ignored by her mother and only mildly cared for by her absent, extramarital affair-loving author of a father. Enter Eddie O'Hare, who Ted hires as a writer's assistant. In this one summer, in the idyllic Long Island summer setting, a somewhat astonishing connection is forged between these four characters.
The second section portrays Ruth at 36 years of age. She is a successful writer and is about to be reconnected to that landmark summer in a series of often inconceivable situations.

I first read this book when I was about 19 or 20 years old. I enjoyed it then but categorized it with the other John Irvings I found to be "good, but not great." Boy, was I wrong. This is truly an extraordinary piece of written work. The detail in the storyline, the unerring connections that the fortunate reader can piece together, the heart, the soul, the symbolism, the humor, the tragedy. Just stunning. I think one of the most important messages this novel conveys is that what or who affects you as a child, can in turn affect the choices you make for yourself for the rest of your life. Sure, it may not be true of everyone, but I think it is so for most people. Irving expresses this in an exquisitely understated manner. And for that, I cherish him as one of my favorite writers of all time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lost Fan Questionnaire

Thanks to fellow blogger and avid Lost fan Nik at Nite, I have something to do while my nerves gradually fray waiting for the premiere. TOMORROW, 9PM WILL BE THE GREATEST MOMENT EVARRRR.

1. What country are you from?

2. Have you been watching right from the beginning or did you catch up quickly on DVD? If the latter, what season did you start watching it live?
I didn't watch from the beginning. I downloaded the first season from Kazaa (oh, those were the days) and proceeded to neither sleep, eat, nor shower for the following two weeks. I started watching the show live when the second season began.

3. What is it about Lost that drew you in in the first place?
That it DIDN'T answer any questions right away. That it assumed that the viewers had higher than average intelligence. That it was unlike any other show to air on TV.

4. What do you think is the funniest moment on Lost?
When Hurley threw the burrito at Ben. I think I choked on my (Dharma) beer and it almost came out my nose.

5. What was the saddest moment for you?
Hmm, tie between when Charlie died and when Sun thinks Jin died in the explosion.

6. Who is your favourite character (if you have one) and why?
Sayid: because he is effortlessly polite, level-headed and intuitive. AND OH SO SEXY.

7. What, if any, do you think has been the biggest misstep the writers have made on the show?
Adding "new" characters in later seasons who were presumably "always there," ie: Nikki, Paulo, Frogurt.

8. What is your favourite storyline to follow?
I love it ALL - okay except maybe for the cheesier "love tangle" plotlines.

9. What is your least favourite storyline?
See above

10. What other shows do you watch right now?
Fringe, CSI (only Las Vegas, the others are rubbish) Damages, Archer

11. What are your all-time favourite shows?
uh, Lost. The X-Files, Mad Men, South Park

12. What is the biggest question you want answered on Lost in season 6?
How did they come up with the exact numbers??

13. Do you have a theory on how Lost is going to end?
To be honest? No. I have a lot of theories about how the final season will begin, but I haven't a clue how the Lost team is going to wrap this all up.

14. It’s been said the season will end on one single image. What do you think that image will be?
The island.

15. What’s your favourite thing about the Lost fan community?
How much we all love to theorize. I mean, a single show got millions of people across the world to actually USE their brains, instead of mindlessly sitting on their couches, gaping at the screen.

16. What do you plan to do when it’s all over?
Cry for weeks. Mourn. Tattoo myself with the numbers.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


a short segment from the novel I'm writing:

Her hometown of Irvine is exactly what you’d expect of a Southern Californian suburb. Cookie-cutter, pristine, shrubs and flowers caged, kept from unruly abandon. No buildings reach above five floors, the streets are wide, there are no buses to be seen and of course, no pedestrians. The sun beats down everlastingly on the sterile landscape. In the distance, the San Bernadino mountains loom in the musky haze -- a comforting presence to Deena who often finds Boston’s landscape curiously alien.

They turn onto their street and Deena looks at her childhood home; a two-story, taupe house with adobe-red tiles slanting down from the roof. The garage door is new, blindingly white. The front garden is beautiful. Her father, an avid gardener, spends many hours in the hot sun puttering around his plants, flowers and trees, tunelessly whistling or singing an old song from his childhood. There are exotic bird of paradise, a white pebble path leading to the front door and even a guava tree loaded with the precious fruit, supple in their smooth green skins.

Deena opens the door and immediately hears the scrabbling click of the dog’s nails on the tile. Their beagle, Donut, comes yelping and bounding up to her. She drops to her knees and happily submits to his frantic sniffing and licking. Donut is her mother’s especial favorite and he’s gotten charmingly fat. He sniffs around her feet in a frenzy of welcome, pudgy body wriggling with joy. Just as quickly, Donut prances off.

Deena surveys the house with a satisfied sigh. Nothing has changed significantly. It is her childhood home, preserved in the gel of her memories. The same Chinese paintings adorn the wall above the upright piano she spent so many hours slaving over as a child. The kitchen directly in front of her is sparkling clean, the sunlight streaming in through the three stained-glass windows. The circular glass dining table gleams. As decoration, her father had inserted hundreds of quarters under the glass. They shine welcomingly. Through the open window, Deena hears birds softly chirping and the distant happy screams of children playing in a pool.

She is home.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010