Sunday, May 31, 2009

Memories of My Melancholy Whores

The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin...”, thus begins the story of the unnamed protagonist in Memories of My Melancholy Whores.
In the first few chapters, the unnamed character who introduces himself as “ugly, shy and anachronistic” provides an explanation about his life, how he enjoys visiting brothels in his youth and claims “I have never gone to bed with a woman I didn’t pay”. By the age of 50 he boasts of a list of 514 women whom he’d slept with at least once. To meet his birthday request, he calls an old acquaintance who owns the city’s most successful brothel and she manages to arrange for a 14 year old virgin to meet him on the night of his ninetieth birthday.

I was very disturbed with the first few chapters of the book mainly because of the paedophilic nature of the main character’s request but this book is not about sex. It is about love, death and ageing. Upon meeting the 14 year old girl he falls in love with her and thus renews his outlook and perspective in life in which he feels excitedly “condemned to die of happy love in the joyful agony of any day after my hundredth birthday”.
Unlike Love in the Time of Cholera which I enjoyed reading tremendously; Memories of My Melancholy Whores tipped on the opposite side of the scale for me. Though the story of finding love and life at an age when “most mortals have already died” appealed to me, the character however did not.

Friday, May 29, 2009

What's on Your Nightstand - May

What’s on Your Nightstand is a monthly event hosted by 5 Minutes for Books.
On my nightstand this month is:
  1. City of Thieves, David Benioff
  2. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safron Foer
  3. Emma, Jane Austen
  4. People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks

I've actually listed Everything is Illuminated and Emma before as part of my TBR pile in previous post but never seem to get around to reading them. Hopefully, this month I'll be able to catch up with my reading list.

Happy Reading Everybody!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Child Called 'It'

Dave Pelzer’s A Child Called ‘It’ is something which I have been wanting to read for the longest time. In the past few years since the book was published it has garnered great reviews as well as controversy surrounding Pelzer’s claim of being abused.
A simple and easy book to read, the book is told from a child’s perspective. The horrific details of his torture in the book are graphic. The second born child of five siblings, I found it difficult to comprehend why his mother singled him out from the rest and abused him while the rest were treated normally. He suffered horrendous acts of abuse from his mother and Pelzer’s memoir reveals how he is affected by it.

Whether Pelzer’s account is true or not I guess we’ll never know though the teachers who rescued him stand by his story. Steven E. Ziegler one of the teachers that saved him stated that he found out Pelzer’s case was “the third-worst child abuse on record in the entire state of California”.

Pelzer’s memoir is a journey into the mind of an abused child; his thoughts, feelings and most importantly his will to survive and rise above it all.

Note: This book counts as the second book read for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I’ve been holding off watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button because I wanted to read the book first. From what I hear the movie is really good so I'm looking forward to watch it.
Anyway I finished reading The Curious Case of Benjamin Button about two weeks back. The book carried many important themes with the central highlight being the importance of ageing naturally and how the experiences gained as we mature would define us as a person. The book also touched on the impact of being too concerned with social status and how gaining acceptance from people can influence ones action and decisions in life affecting those that you should treasure the most.

I’m not going to talk in detail about the books content seeing that it has recently revived its popularity through the latest movie release but there was one thing I found a bit odd about the book and that was the fact that Benjamin’s mother was rarely mentioned. It’s a really short book and an easy read. At times it can be funny and at times you feel really sorry for Benjamin as he tries so hard to be accepted by the people around him.

Did I like it? Well, it was okay. I’m not sure how they expanded it into a three hour movie but now that I’ve read the book I can catch the movie and see how different it is.

To start reading The Curious Case of Benjamin Button please visit DailyLit.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Finds, 22 May

This week’s Friday Finds:
  1. Petite Anglaise by Catherine Sanderson
  2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  3. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Early American Advertising: A Fabulous Compilation of Advertisements, Honest and Otherwise Large and Small from 1799 to 1924

The book has a very long title which normally would have put me off but surprisingly once I started reading it, I found it quite enjoyable and easy to read. Compiled by Bob Perlongo sometime in the 1980’s, this book has an extensive collection of advertisements from 1799 to 1924 featuring ads from real estate to washing powders to medication that can cure all ailments (yes... really. You’d be sued if you claimed something like that in this day and age!).
Some of the claims made by the products are really out of this world, maybe believable in that era but quite funny when you read it now. It’s a good book that provides samples of the early days in advertising and you can really see how we have progressed in terms of communication and design. Perlongo also accompanies some of the ads featured with comments on his observation on the designs, copy or overall look and feel of a particular ad which helps to make the book much more of an interesting read.

Note: This book counts as one of my five books to read for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge100+ Reading Challenge which ends in December. running from May to September and my

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

I found The Gashlycrumb Tinies lying around looking out of place in the teen section of my favourite bookstore. There was something about the cover that attracted me to it. It reminded me of Tim Burton’s style somehow. Anyway, I picked it up and read it within five minutes. I believe my immediate reaction was ‘how weird.’
The Gashlycrumb Tinies is a dark version or parody of a children’s book made for adult readers created by Edward Gorey. The book features the untimely death of 26 kids each represented by an alphabet.

Despite my initial reaction I loved the illustrations from the book except for maybe one or two of the deaths that I thought was a bit too graphic. It took a while but the book kinda grew on me and I think it’s absolutely cool. I’m buying myself a copy for my personal collection and am also looking forward to reading Gorey’s other books.

If you’d like to learn more about Edward Gorey please click here. In the meantime for those who are curious about the book I found a YouTube version of the The Gashlycrumb Tinies for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Cellist of Sarajevo

The real Cellist of Sarajevo is Vedran Smailovic, a musician who played Albinoni’s Adagio for 22 days in 1992 at the site where 22 people were killed in an explosion while queuing for bread. Based on this true account, Steven Galloway developed the story around three fictional characters that are affected by the horrors of war, the cellist and his music that resonate the war torn city. The Cellist of Sarajevo is a harrowing account on the lives of three individuals: Kenan, Dragan and Arrow and how they each struggle to survive, their thoughts, their despair and their hopes for a better life.

Galloway’s short novel is excellently written to make readers understand human reaction during times of war. Even though this is a work of fiction, The Cellist of Sarajevo is a powerful must- read that reminds us on the importance of humanity and the effects of war on human lives. At the end of the book, I could not help but wonder what I myself would do and how much I would be able to endure in such a situation.

The Cellist of Sarajevo is definitely a recommended read.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Traveler

I love the simplicity of how the story of The Traveler is told, and yet how the book carries an important message for all of us be it young or old.
The Traveler is a story of a boy named Charlie who decides to pack up all his time, lock it up in his suitcase and travel the world in search of happiness. After much travelling, he decides to go back home and finds that the happiness that he has been searching for was at home all along. By the time he realizes this it was almost too late as the time he packed in his suitcase had all gone and cannot be saved.

The Traveler is a good read and a good reminder for those of us always looking for something better in life. Clearly the message is not to be consumed with searching for happiness, be thankful and appreciate what you have before it’s too late.

Love it! Read it!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Three Incestuous Sisters: An Illustrated Novel

I stumbled upon The Three Incestuous Sisters while I was at my favourite bookstore maybe about two weeks ago. What attracted me to the book was the title and the fact that it was written by the same author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger. I read The Time Traveler’s Wife not long ago and absolutely loved it and this was one of the reasons why I decided to pick up The Three Incestuous Sisters.
Niffenegger took 14 years to develop this book...14 years! And it only took me ten minutes to get through the whole book. Niffenegger calls The Three Incestuous Sisters a visual novel which is (apparently) completely different from a graphic novel. Can anyone tell me what the difference is? The book features illustrations which is quite gothic in style. The story is mostly told through the illustrations itself and the text available is very minimal.

The storyline itself is nothing to shout about revolving around three sisters; each with their own special qualities. Feelings of jealousy and acts of hatred and revenge over one sisters love affair tears the three sisters apart but love brings the family together again in the end. The story is simple and overall easy to follow and definitely a quick read. The illustrations and the little text that was available was clear enough to make one understand the storyline.

Did I like it? In all honesty, I can’t decide though I did find some of the illustrations featured quite beautiful. Such genre is new to me and I find it hard to appreciate the work in totality. All I can say is that I ended the book with one word in mind –unusual.

Should you read it? Why not? It only takes a few minutes to go through the book and I think you’ll find that not only is the author a talented writer (if you’ve read The Time Traveler’s Wife that is) but also a talented artist.

To read my review of The Time Traveler’s Wife, please click here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Rocking-Horse Winner

The Rocking-Horse Winner is a great story that carries multiple themes despite its short text. It revolves around a young boy name Paul who is constantly trying to gain and keep his mother’s love and affection.

Though Paul’s mother is blessed with a great many things, she does not live a luxurious life and is never thankful for all the good things she does possess. The mother blames the lack of money on Paul’s father who she feels has no luck. The family is often preoccupied with efforts of finding more money and because of that the children, especially the sensitive Paul starts to hear the house whisper, “There must be more money”.

Paul longs to silence the house from the whispers and takes it upon himself to find more money. Wanting himself to be lucky, Paul rides on his big rocking-horse, charging madly looking for luck. During his hypnotic rides on the rocking-horse Paul comes to know the names of horses that would win at the race track. After winning a fair sum of money which he arranged to pass on to his mother anonymously, the whispers in the house continues on and in fact becomes worst than before. This pushes Paul to continue his frantic and obsessive quest to find more money which in the end causes his death.

Within this quick read, The Rocking-Horse Winner amazingly carries a variety of important themes; obsessions with materialistic things can make one forget their responsibility as a parent and greed can make one heartless.

Good read. By the way, after I finished reading The Rocking-Horse Winner only did I realized that I’ve read this story before. LOL! Thank God for blogging, now I have a record of the things I've read!

If you would like to read The Rocking-Horse Winner, please click here.

What are you reading on Mondays? - 4 May

It’s Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event held by J.Kaye’s Book Blog.

Last week I only managed to read two titles: The Cellist of Sarajevo and the Gashlycrumb Tinies. Both reviews are not up yet cause I’ve been oh-so-busy with the wedding plans. The Cellist of Sarajevo was a good read but I thought the Gashlycrumb Tinies was a bit morbid.

This week, I’m hoping to do a bit more reading. I’ve started reading Emma for my Themed Reading Challenge and doing good so far. If I manage to finish Emma on time, I’ll try and read Isolation a book which I just purchased at the MPH book sale. 
I’ve selected The Gift of Magi by O. Henry for my weekly short story and I’ve also just registered with DailyLit which I think is absolutely cool. My first subscription from Daily Lit starts tomorrow with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

That's it! Happy reading y’all!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Kira-Kira is written from the point of view of ten year old Katie growing up in the 1950’s with a sister who is suffering from terminal illness.

Katie’s parents take on grueling jobs at a chicken plant and though they face prejudice and poverty, Katie and her elder sister Lynn lead a normal and happy life. Despite all the challenges the family face trying to make a living, the family sticks together and works hard to keep afloat. As Lynn’s illness gets worst the family crumbles and fall apart but after Lynn’s death they look for ways to become a family again.

This is a heart breaking yet beautiful story which touches on topics like discrimination not only to American Japanese families but also on employment discrimination that happened at the time.
The book also touches on the challenges that one faces when dealing with a dying family member. I especially like how the author addresses the issues and makes the reader understand that it’s natural to feel at times frustration and anger despite the fact that Katie loves her sister dearly.

Overall, this is a great book with important themes and an eye opener for both young and mature readers.

Friday, May 1, 2009

What's on Your Nightstand- April

What’s on Your Nightstand is a monthly event hosted by 5 Minutes for Books.
In my last post for What’s on Your Nightstand I listed out the following books to read:
  1. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  2. The Last Secret of the Temple by Paul Sussman
  3. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen & David Oliver Relin
  4. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly 

What I managed to read in April were the following books instead:
  1. Veronika Decides to Die
  2. Philosophy: A Graphic Guide to the History of Thinking
  3. The Book of Lost Things
  4. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
  5. Kira- Kira (Review not up yet)
  6. The Three Incestuous Sisters (Review not up yet)
  7. The Traveler (Review not up yet)

This month I reckon I’ll need to change this post from What’s on Your Nightstand to What’s on Your Bookshelf. I can’t believe the amount of unread books I have currently on my bookshelf. I keep buying them and just don’t have the time to read them all. It doesn’t help that I jump at any opportunity to visit book sales and end up buying a truckload of books. Half of my second bookshelf in my study room is filled with books that I have yet to read.
Anyway I guess I can never complain that I have nothing to read. This month I’m hoping to read the following books:
  1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  2. Emma by Jane Austen
  3. Everything is Illuminated by Joshua Safran Foer
  4. Isolation by Travis Thrasher
Happy reading everybody!
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