crazy rich asians-kevin kwan

“When fiction writers talk about writing fiction, they’re continuing to write fiction.”

i was once told that i must be part magpie, and it’s true that shiny things do catch my eye. the gold and pink of this largish book cover first got my attention last year on the subway before i even read the title, which i did as soon as the sheepish white girl who was holding it gushed that it wasn’t what it looked like, but it was. she loved asian people, really, and it was the latest book reviewed in vanity fair, and it was really amazing-i just had to read it. i applaud her for being brave enough not to read it on a kindle, and i’m glad for the metrotextual moment that ensued because of the conversation because of the fact that she was reading it. i also now thank her, because it was the exact kind of escape that i needed this week when i didn’t want to think about work.

the quote is not from the book, but from e.l. doctorow‘s talk about andrew’s brain at the philly free library. but it applies, not only to this book, but to life in general. i love the way that it’s written, as a dishy drama about people who have so much money they get bored spending it so they must resort to the sidework of rich folks-wheeling and dealing. who cares about the people who get in the way and their feelings?

the dialogue also moves me-i actually hear my aunties and all the singaporean/malaysian people i’ve known in my life speaking when i read this, and along with the food descriptions, i felt strangely comforted by this, even though it sandwiches a tale about people so rich beyond any of my means or desires. nicely played, mister kwan, nicely played.

i cheered for kyle lowry for the first time during the starting lineup on friday night (a loss that was not john salmons‘ fault, by the way, it was our entire team’s fault for deciding not to play defense on kevin durant on back to back possessions in a game that he finished with 51 points. but how about the fact that last year (or even at the beginning of this season), this wouldn’t even have been a game, let alone one that we lost by one point in double overtime. but kyle yesterday? whoo. damn. late last year, i decided that the all-star break was the last time that i would hate on the man, and we’re right on schedule to me being a rather big fan of his, for the way that he’s stepped up for the good of this team.

library tour reset

i kind of lost track of the tour somewhere along the way, so i’m going to reset beginning with the ones that i remember going to/frequent and relaunch the tour from this point on.

here’s the roster:

1. annette street 11. jones 21. albert campbell
2. parkdale 12. st. lawrence 22. todmorden room
3. toronto reference library 13. queen/saulter 23. north york central
4. pape/danforth 14. beaches 24. albion
5. bloor/gladstone 15. main street 25. downsview
6. runnymede 16. parliament st. 26. barbara frum
7. jane/dundas 17. s. walter stewart 27. northern district
8. lillian smith 18. cedarbrae 28. forest hill
9. college/shaw 19. malvern 29. maria schuka
10.sanderson 20. gerrard/ashdale 30. oakwood village

31. brentwood 41. riverdale
32. st. james town 42. yorkville
33. city hall 43. swansea memorial
34. spadina road
35. palmerston
36. perth/dupont
37. davenport
38. dufferin/st.clair
39. high park
40. deer park

woot! those are the ones at the new starting point. see you on staycation.

operating instructions-anne lamott

“I heard someone say once that forgiveness is having given up all hope of having had a better past.” (210)

this is certainly different from the louise hay camp of charging people with being guilty of manifesting their own cancer or HIV. (sigh). what happens when your therapist tells you that she believes in this book? i mean, i’m all about taking charge of your own destiny, and i do believe that there are environmental and psychological elements of sickness, but there is a line.

i got a message from wordpress today that this blog is five years old today, and i’m gunning for blog number 1000 to celebrate the occasion. i’m transplanting back to the summer when i went through all the anne lamott books by the order of the subjects that she wrote about-writing, her (grand)son, and faith. i think i mentioned this before, but after all that, i just couldn’t get with her fiction, unlike the work of jeannette walls.

“Then I called a woman who went out with him a few years ago and discovered the two modt damaging things I can know about a man: one, he voted for both Bush and Reagan, and two, he was very very reluctant to give head.” (184).

ouch. that’s quite the double-whammy.

the silver star-jeannette walls

“When mom was home, she sometimes let us stay up late, but without her around, we always went to bed on time. Since she wasn’t there to write excuses, we were never late to school and never skipped a day, which she sometimes let us do. We never left dirty dishes in the sink, and we flossed our teeth.” (15)

“She had no problem with the individual words but couldn’t string them together to mean anything. She treated the words like she did her food, keeping each one separate.” (103)

“I wondered if Mom was really going to help us get through all this or if she was just going to be one more person who needed reassurance.” (207)

see? stranger than fiction. though this is officially classified as “fiction” after her forays into writing non-fiction about her family and non-fiction on gossip. huh.

again, this. and true detectives. these two. and we’re up by 9 with 8 minutes and change left in the half.

the glass castle-jeannette walls

“it’s the paranoia of not being a great dad”

“I’m not upset because I’ll miss you,” Mom said. “I’m upset because you get to go to New York and I’m stuck here. It’s not fair.” (237)

i’m making dinner, clearing french level 18 on duolingo, watching true detectives, and attempting to execute this blog entry, but i cannot go any further without expressing my complete and utter gratitude for yassin gaye-this is amazing work, thank you. once again, shoutout to nahright for making me aware.

what control do we have over what we inherit? what responsibility do we have as parents not to push our dreams onto our children (on purpose or through osmosis)? how do we influence our children just by living our lives? how do we influence our children by not living our lives? i’ve been thinking of benefitting from a co-worker’s homework as a child of a narcissistic parent, and that’s just us regular folk-what if your parents are jay-z and beyonce? kanye and kim? nas and kelis? erykah and andre? are things different now than they ever were? are they perhaps better off?

“Dad had the more inventive vocabulary, but Grandma Smith could outshout him; plus she had the home-court advantage.” (20)

“Mom’s writing was very creative. So was her spelling.” (30)

“Jack mackerel was not as good as tuna, but was better than cat food, which we ate from time to time when things got really tight.” (171)

much like anne lamott, i had the luxury of reading jeanette walls‘ story in reverse. well, this was maybe her intentional trajectory, this might have been the order in which she was ready to reveal her life. i can see why this would be a hard story to tell, and why it is the kind of thing that one simultaneously never wants to tell, and can’t move forward without telling. i don’t think it’s an accident that she made her career as a journalist-dedicated herself to facts because her facts were so much stranger than fiction. i’m not sure what her journey of shirking her inheritance looked like, but her final destination is one that looks pretty healthy and miraculous. this is a successful writing story, in my eyes. i don’t know that i would’ve been able to forgive the transgressions of her parents, but then again, who can argue the percentage of will in forgiveness? this story really proves that parents are people too-that they do the best that they can, and that they don’t. it’s heartbreaking when they let us down, but it’s also heartbreaking when they don’t. and it’s such a fine line between love and heartbreak. it’s a misconception that babies are more fragile-babies don’t know shit-it’s parents who walk around with the weight of expectation and fear and responsibility on their shoulders, and who can blame them for cracking? but that’s not to excuse the obligation to come around and fix the mistakes that they know they made. that’s the balance of the unequal relationship. that’s the commitment not to perpetuate cycles.

“apologies in order”

what’s the love of a golden zippy cup and presidential luncheons if your folks are just parading you around as the next level of their marketing campaign to manifest destiny? is it business as usual, or is it something different? should it be?

the history of love-nicole krauss

“Her kiss was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” (62)

this one seemed to be an appropriate one to carry my desire to speak about house of cards and the unconventional marriage depicted there, or perhaps it’s not as unconventional as we are led to believe? do you always start where your partner begins? are you obligated to do so when you agree to spend your life with someone? or is it a constant jockeying for position and balance of supporting your partner’s ambitions and not drowning in them at the sacrifice of your own? i got a message that i hadn’t listened to any of my philly free library podcasts in awhile (they come so fast and furious!) so i listened to an excellent one about al sharpton‘s latest book and let it run to the books and authors that i hadn’t heard of (that’s the brilliance of this podcast-i usually end up reading the books). james carville and mary matalin‘s latest book love and war would be that book that brought me to this one, and to francis and claire.

“It’s a lot easier to love someone who hates your politics that someone who hates her in-laws.”

i suppose? i mean, most people can escape living with their in-laws (or make it work like olivia and jack-btw the cbc movie about them made me cry buckets last week), but most married people live with their partners. i’ve never been with anyone whose politics were that different from mine (pro-kanye/anti-kanye was the closest), but i would imagine that would be kind of difficult.

“To paint a leaf, you have to sacrifice the whole landscape. It might seem like you’re limiting yourself at first, but after a while you realize that having a quarter-of-an-inch of something you have a better chance of holding on to a certain feeling of the universe than if you pretended to be doing the whole sky.” (45)

let’s not forget that this book comes from the mind of half a writerly couple-which also makes it a good candidate for this discussion (i did until just now). i do know what that’s like-being with another writer-the same things that attract you to someone really are the same things that eventually drive you nuts-but what if you’re just better at your common craft than your partner? how do you negotiate that? i always marvel at folks who are able to manage and flourish with that one-margaret and graeme, barack and michelle-i’m looking at yous.

“The shop owner did not try to push the book on any of her customers. She knew that in the wrong hands such a book could easily be dismissed or, worse, go unread. Instead, she let it sit where it was in hope that the right reader might discover it.” (74)

i was so arrogant to be put off by this book in the beginning because it began with a sentence fragment. yes, i have read many books that open with grammatical or spelling errors, but it took 50 pages (my instinct to keep pushing after the usual 30-page allowance) to be humbled into seeing that it was indeed a stylistic choice. i was also reading it last summer while i was obsessed with the AGO soundscapes exhibit by janet cardiff and her life and art partner.

“So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves.” (111)