June 16, 2011 § 1 Comment
Catch NPR’s latest offering on the art of travel. Read “Five Tips For Making Travel Meaningful” here — featuring two of the best writers in the genre. Say Paul Theroux and Pico Iyer and you have the most distinguished names in travel writing. The excerpts reproduced from their books 100 Journeys for the Spirit and The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments From Lives on the Road will get you dreaming of that next, new place you’ve been itching to encounter. ( Like, horseback riding on the turquoise waters of Turks and Caicos. See.)
Consider this quote from Theroux: “The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human: the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger, to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown, to bear witness to the consequences, tragic or comic, of people possessed by the narcissism of minor differences. Chekhov said, “If you’re afraid of loneliness, don’t marry.” I would say, if you’re afraid of loneliness, don’t travel. The literature of travel shows the effects of solitude, sometimes mournful, more often enriching, now and then unexpectedly spiritual.”
Read the rest here.
May all roads lead you to happy journeys!
June 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
You. Must. Not. Miss. This.
June 4, 2011 § Leave a comment
May 28, 2011 § 4 Comments
Critics Notebook of the New York Times is also replete with ideas. See it here. For an array of options, also check out my recommended links below. (And do come back for updates.)
As for me, I am still working my way through Aaron Sorkin’s thicket of a book (but utterly gripping in a way you wouldn’t expect from anything written on high finance; then again, we already know what “this” story is about), Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System–And Themselves. Also reading David Foster Wallace’s posthumously-published The Pale King. As a confessed DFW-fan, I want to savor every morsel of this book. This is his last work. And there is such a profound sadness that comes with the acceptance of this hard truth. Until, of course, the well-oiled wheels of big publishing come up with something new and DFW-esque. DFW is, after all, brisk business for a niche group. In the way that Steve Jobs has an Apple cult and Lady Gaga her Little Monsters, DFW left in his wake a literary cult that is clamoring for more. (Here, present!) DFW’s best friend, Jonathan Franzen, is visible more than ever (and in fact recently delivered a commencement address at Kenyon College where DFW famously delivered his 2005 speech; read Franzen’s controversial Kenyon speech here; read DFW’s Kenyon speech here) but Franzen with all his genius and his realism just doesn’t match the real McCoy. To be sure, I like Jonathan Franzen. His massive novel Corrections made me curse in the presence of my mother for its sheer realistic elegance. His book of essays How to be Alone was instrumental in making me reclaim my love for books. Franzen is as real as it can get. Franzen is tasting the rain on your tongue or licking sea salt ever so carefully. But DFW’s kind of reality is like getting his head inside yours. It is so many voices on at once. You recognize yourself. The difference is DFW is a very skilled, preternaturally gifted writer that the experience is Even So Much Better. It is to touch, taste, hear, see…aaah, everything– a sensory outburst. A sense of being. But these two authors, Franzen and DFW- the uncontested literary giants of our time- proceed from different planes altogether and should be read for their own merits because comparing them is a worthless exercise. I’ll take a snapshot anyway: Franzen is the life lived. DFW is the life examined. Both challenging writers, between the two of them, Franzen is easier to read; DFW the more demanding. And therefore the rewards are felt differently. Needless to say, I am a bigger fan of DFW mainly for his long, footnote-laden, nonfiction essays. To whet your appetite, Harper’s has made available to the public some of his essays. See the collection here. Also in my list is Hitch-22. (There is no way to say this but the June 2011 re-edition of the memoir is….perfect! Especially with the recent turn of events in Hitchens’ life as a dramatic backdrop.) Oxford-educated Hitchens is the one contrarian we need, regardless if you agree with his views or not. And the man CAN write! We need more voices like Hitchens whose ideas are incendiary, who are not bashful, and who are relentless in their questioning. And, then, of course, further down my queue is Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone. I’m not for sentimental fiction but after the big brainiacs DFW and Sorkin, I’d like to read something loving and gentle and a tad weepy even. An Amazon book club has published a guide to reading Cutting for Stone, calling it ‘one of the best books ever written and read.’ I don’t know about that because I’ve only just skimmed the first pages and it looks promising so far. I also fancy stories written by doctors with a preference for medical thrillers. There is something innately romantic when a surgeon trades the scalpel for a pen. Verghese is a trained M.D. (Stanford). Remember Robin Cook and Khaled Hosseini? Both doctors. They wrote paperback fiction which I read and thoroughly enjoyed.
May 26, 2011 § 13 Comments
The Muses are here! I must write. I have embarked on an adventure I didn’t know was possible: I am now writing a book that aims to promote Filipino heritage. Stay tuned.
May 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
Couple of days back The Guardian called on readers to snap pictures of their bookshelves. The Guardian recently released some of its favorites from those who responded. See it here. There is also a Flickr Group and you are still invited to join in the fun. Click here. Any devoted reader is sure to find inspiration. It lurks in these shelves.
May 24, 2011 § 2 Comments
There is that part in the book I’m currently reading (see old post here) where former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson describes Lehman CEO Dick Fuld this way: “He’s like a cat; he’s had nine lives.” Their nine lives are perhaps a cat’s most vaunted virtues, but maybe it’s time we add ‘photographer’ to the lot?
I have feline affections, and as if I am not awed by cats enough, one cat, an American shorthair won me and cat-lovers the world over yet again. Cooper of Seattle is the newly famous (cat)-photographer whose humans had placed a camera around her collar that takes pictures every two minutes. The result: a montage of images from the POV of a cat, not surprisingly surprising, inspired, affecting, spontaneous, playful, and all too heartwarming as if Cooper’s graceful and inquisitive demeanor is translated into the photographs themselves. I will go on to even say that these photographs reveal the soul of an artist. On the whole, the concept strikes me as creative though not quite as original. A book of photographs on Boston has been published from the POV of ducks as inspired by the iconic Bostonian book, Make Way for Ducklings. For those interested, the book is called A Duck’s Eye View of Boston which certainly has more picturesque scenes than those from Cooper’s cam. Still, a cat’s got to make a scratch, and for a first, this one is sure to leave a mark.
So, what about photographs taken by dolphins to promote ocean conservation? Or by canines serving in war-ravaged lands? Of elephants serving tourists in Thailand? Or better yet, photographs of humans by a zoo animal in captivity or in circuses to promote animal rights? That should give us some fresh and badly-needed POV.