Sunday Book Hunting at Amcorp Mall

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to me ūüôā Two days late btw. And its fine, you don’t need to wish my reaching quarter of a century. O life’s brief candle.

The weather was dreadful these few days (and apparently my neighbour’s roof got struck by a lightning last night and luckily my modem escaped unscathed) and I was feeling dreadful as well from an allergy attack and it made me miserable enough that I couldn’t go to the Bakery supply shop in Taman Megah on Saturday… sniff.

So to make my Sunday better, I end up going to Amcorp Mall to get the books I’ve been eyeing earlier this month.¬†But instead of the two books, I end up bringing home seven books.

IMG_20131222_154426

Yes, December is a month full of book hauls for me… and empty pockets….. uhuks

Its a well-known fact that if you live in PJ for years and never been to Amcorp Mall, you can’t call yourself PJians. Yes, there’s a lot of malls here like the Mid Valley, Sunway Pyramid, Summit USJ, Paradigm Mall, The Curve, Ikano Power Center, One Utama… yes, we have a lot of malls here and thankfully, a lot of bookstores too but none of them had the right charm as the Amcorp Mall.

Located right in the heart of Petaling Jaya and conveniently within the walking distance from the LRT Kelana Jaya line, Amcorp Mall is one of the still thriving community-based mall in the city and also one of the most famous weekend flea market in Malaysia and the famous BookXcess bookstore.

And I have an awful tablet camera and I know you know about that already.

If you’re a hoarder of any sort, the flea market would drive your OCD need to the wall. There’s a lot of cheap toys for kids and adults alike. My kryptonite was books, obviously.

As teenager, I used to skip my night tuition and hop on LRT to Amcorp Mall for secondhand books from the Payless store but when they went out of business, BookXcess took over the space and when Big Bad Wolf went big, they relocated to a larger space and they fill it with more books and they’ve¬†remodeled¬†again and they got even bigger than it was.

IMG_20131222_145547

The joys of living in PJ.

But I’m back to being broke from this shopping escapades when I should be buying cheese cake stuff. Oh well.

I know that its Comic Fiesta weekend but for some odd reason, the crowd were massive again. I haven’t been to CF events since the last time they did CF in Sunway Pyramid CC and it was an annual thing for me in this past ten years. Then again, I hate needless queuing and huge crowds. I had a bad crowd experience when they did it at Berjaya Times Square hotel. My sister still volunteering as usual but considering I no longer interested in the current anime world, I decided to skip this year, again.

So, about the hauls. Surprisingly, I got 7 books at under RM41 (or USD12) which by itself is the average price of one book in regular bookstore. Most of them were second hand books which is fine. That reminded me, I need to do a bookshelf clearance sale.

1. A. Samad Said’s Salina

IMG_20131222_154346

I know this novel was a staple in many household’s bookshelf in Malaysia whether you read it or not and have been everyone’s favourite novel of all time. This also the book I haven’t read in my whole life as a reader.

What I found here was an English translated version of Salina in a very good condition (in fact, I don’t think it was ever read by anyone).¬†I have an older edition the book inherited from my parents but I’ve been looking for this version for a very long time. It was my SMK Panji Alam’s Bahasa Melayu teacher who recommended the book and told me about the English translation version. Unfortunately, I don’t think the translated version was ever reprinted nor distributed in ebooks. So really, this is one rare book. Much like Anthony Burgess’s books on Malaya.

I’ve known about the existence of the book for a long time but I never had the heart to read it. I know its the greatest modern Malay literature of our time but because its a societal commentary about the lives of the Singaporean Malays in the dark days of Singapore in the 50s, technically its the story of my dad’s family. To be exact, it was the same Singapore my late-grandparents and my dad lived in. (Although the character’s story was very much different from my grandparent’s story but it was equally dramatic) So really, the book does hold some sensitive part of my family history about the world they lived in so I do need to proceed this with extreme caution.

2.¬†Lois Lowry’s The Giver

IMG_20131222_154307

I genuinely wish I had this book when I was still at school instead of The Pearl.

3.¬†Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing

IMG_20131222_154326

I think the fates are kind with me. Three Cormac McCarthy books under Rm10. *squeeeee*

4.¬†Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden

IMG_20131222_154316

I haven’t been kind to McEwan’s Atonement. But I’m willing to give his book another chance. And I had to buy this because I want the McCarthy’s book and its the “Buy 3 for RM10” pile.

5.¬†Stephen Fry’s Moab is My Washpot

IMG_20131222_154335

Normally, I don’t do autobiographies especially with people who haven’t died yet. But it was the only decent book in the box so I had to get it. Plus, I love his prose.

6. Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers

IMG_20131222_154324

This book have seen better days and some part of the pages have mold stains in it. Its only for RM1!

7. J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace

IMG_20131222_154336

I got a mild heart attack when I saw Disgrace in RM5 pile. Yes, I’ve read and reviewed and studied this book but what I had with me was ebooks! It didn’t feel the same! And this book need a home!

And instead of making strawberry cheese cake, I end up making playdoh for the kids. They’ve been torturing themselves with playdoh youtube review for days (weirdly, it reach several million views) and who am I to say no about it

20131222_172519

and they’re so tired from kneading and playing that they collapsed from exhaustion before it was 10pm. Achievement accomplished.

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

6192ScreenHunter_49 Sep. 05 19.39

I don’t think the book is a good representation of Africa but character-wise, I do find this book interesting. Don’t get that wrong, I don’t like the book and I don’t think the book is flawless either. I was more than a bit more than just peeved at David Lurie and his naive impression on the world and his sexuality that he regressed as a mature character. But I do think its an interesting book that talk about rape application and essentially a coming-of-age book in the body of an adult with a childlike mind.

“We put our children in the hands of you people because we think we can trust you. If we can’t trust the university, who can we trust? We never thought we were sending our daughter into a nest of vipers. No, Professor Lurie, you may be high and mighty and have all kinds of degrees, but if I was you I’d be very ashamed of myself, so help me God. If I’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick, now is your chance to say, but I don’t think so, I can see it from your face.” Page 35

Disgrace is a first POV narration and it does carry its limitation. David Lurie is clearly an unreliable narrative but human in every sense. He’s prideful, arrogant, narcissistic and a fool with many degrees. He’s a smart man but still an idiot nonetheless. The book’s narrative is observant and often contradicts his action in so many ways which made the process of reading engrossing. Along the while, I forgot that he’s a middle age man character which the book continuously reminded about. But it was clear that he was ignorant about many things on woman.

Its hard to read the book without imagining a special Chinese water torture with him in it. Yes, he did get a karmic intervention which it took him by surprise and it does have its own facepalm moments when he became so obsessed about his daughter’s situation and her apparently independence and stubbornness about the matter that he’s literally taken off guard. The book is political and at times pushing his views through his characters. But at times, you did get caught up into his storytelling without anticipating it.

The book is moderately visual but very clinical about the subject of sex. From Lurie’s sexual escapades with Soraya, Melanie and Bev Shaw to the gang rape of his daughter and to his horror the child resulting from that rape. But for what its worth, Coetzee is surprisingly feminist, sensitive and stark about woman’s issue. He did show exactly how rape is used as a weapon to manipulate a woman into subjugation. How Lucy was being manipulated into seeing that she was admitting defeat if she reported her rape because to her, it meant she was admitting defeat against her attackers. But as a result, she accepted her fate and willingly let herself fall into Petrus’s manipulation who himself had a hand on her attacks.

‘Hatred . . . When it comes to men and sex, David, nothing surprises me any more. Maybe, for men, hating the woman makes sex more exciting. You are a man, you ought to know. When you have sex with someone strange – when you trap her, hold her down, get her under you, put all your weight on her – isn’t it a bit like killing? Pushing the knife in; exiting afterwards, leaving the body behind covered in blood – doesn’t it feel like murder, like getting away with murder?’

For all its worth, the core in this novel is about humanity with its flaws and adapting to change and forms of power abuse and difficulties when one faces frustrated views contradicting to oneself. Its hardly an enjoyable novel. Geographically unenticing. Stupid Marty Sue character with hedonistic tendencies. But still thought-provoking nonetheless.

‘The question is, does he have it in him to be the woman?

 

 

 

 

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

59716ScreenHunter_31 Aug. 19 15.00

This is a difficult book to read and to like unless you’ve reached that state of mind where you can digest words without even actively trying to understand the whole winding paragraphs. ‘To the Lighthouse’ is a story by several multiple POV characters that centered around the existence of the lighthouse and the metaphors around the interaction and characterization of the book’s residents. Virginia Woolf uses a literary technique called stream of consciousness where every character in this book have a chance to be the narrator’s voice without the necessity of an observant out of the picture narrator as the narratives of each of the characters somehow bloated up the book enough that the plot is even rendered unnecessary.

And this is the essay I did on the book : “Lighthouse” in a sense, a building guiding light penetrating the darkness of the ocean. It emphasize directly on the novel which was mostly surround itself with the inner workings of the minds and as a way to enable the characterization progression and it gave a scope of understanding through the¬†depth of each personalities and psychologically. Although the plot of the novel was given less consideration but can be wholly redefined as the focus of the novel was foremost the characterizations. Those includes;¬†what a person thinks or do things and what motivate them or what was their desires and their hopes which was magnified by just using words.¬†Woolf had carefully paraphrase the multivariate narrations without compromising on the stylistic substances but its not hard to avoid being displaced by the continuous writing and the¬†ephemeral¬†quality of its prose.¬†She managed to sum up human values and its¬†intricacies¬†between seemingly contradictory characters and unfailingly giving each their own personal voices surrounding the events inside the story. Mrs Ramsey was the most prominent voice throughout the novel. Her observation on the world and people around her was contrasted differently between her and her family and friends. Mr Ramsey provided a darker side that was a direct contrast to Mrs Ramsey. However, the style of the book compensate his actions as the narrative give an insight to his characterization down to his deep insecurity and how Mrs Ramsey complement him in their relationship. The novel provide a pathway of greater understanding of the relationship between each other and how it correlates and subsequently resulted in changes or character developments. In a way, “To The Lighthouse” is a coming of age novel at its core and as a guiding light toward a greater form of humanity.

But this book is extremely exhausting to read in one sitting. I’ve read this a few times with audiobooks and I still don’t know how on earth a person could write this way. Since someone said that this style is also used in Joyce’s Ulysses, I am taking even a step farther away from that book. I don’t think I have the right age to read this. I probably will mellow down in years and retry reading this book with a different perspective.