backstory

On the week-end I finished reading All That I Am, by Anna Funder. The same friend who had previously lent me copies of The Narrow Road to the Deep North and All Quiet on the Western Front also once told me that ATIA was one of her most favourite novels written in recent times (as opposed to classics or novels written and published decades ago).

It was probably about three years ago that she told me this. I wrote the name of the book down on a bit of scrap paper (we were at work at the time), and fully intended to read it. I can’t remember why she never lent me a copy of ATIA (too precious?) but I set out to find it in book stores. I don’t think I’d heard of it before, but apparently it was a number-one bestseller at some point.  Continue reading

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knives and daggers

There’s a particular scene from The Grapes of Wrath that has stayed with me longer than I could have expected it to (although I’m also not surprised that it has). I can remember parts of the novel if I stop and think about it, but this one part pops into my mind of its own accord. [Warning: spoilers in the next paragraph.]  Continue reading

dissecting a childhood memory

My primary school, in the years that I was there, had a sort of miniature forest planted in a corner of the school grounds, near the staff carpark. There was a little dirt path that curved and wound its way through the mini forest, and connected the playground at one end with the little pond at the other. Along the way, there were a few benches, so one could sit and enjoy the serenity.

I hadn’t thought of that little forest in a very long time, but the other day, when I was walking down the street in the middle of the day, and the wind rushed through the trees that I was passing under – at that precise moment, I thought of that little forest, and for a split second, I was back there, sitting on a bench about midway down the path, reading a book. It was exactly as Anne Lamott describes in Bird by Bird – the way random, seemingly insignificant memories resurface out of nowhere years after the fact, and years since you last thought of them.

In this case, however, I think my mind might have been primed toward that kind of memory. This post isn’t actually about memories or forests. It’s about childhood and change.  Continue reading

lessons from Steinbeck

I wonder how many blog posts I start with “I’ve been reading [insert book title]” or something along those lines… There’s no doubt that books give me plenty of food for thought, and writing is how I digest those thoughts. Here is another such post.

This last month or two, I’ve been reading John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. It was lent to me by a friend from work because I’d expressed interest in reading more of Steinbeck’s novels. Previously, I’d only read Of Mice and Men, and that was all the way back in high school.  Continue reading

today is not terrible

I’d like to think that I’m as realistic and practical and, yes, as cynical as the next person (you probably can’t work in the service industry this long without getting to be like this to some extent), but I’d also like to think that I’m generally quite a positive and optimistic person. Sometimes, in certain cases, I can be relentlessly optimistic. Sometimes I’m optimistic to such an extent that I wonder if this annoys people (usually the people I work with).  Continue reading

meditations – saying no …or not?

There is a lot in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations that I found revelatory, or at least that I agreed with whole-heartedly or otherwise found value in. You only have to read through the many “meditations” posts that I’ve done since last year to see proof of that. For the most part, what he wrote 2000 years ago still seems relevant today.

There are, however, a few things that I do not agree with, that I don’t think is applicable to modern times, or that I find somewhat perplexing. One of these things is the question of when to say no.  Continue reading