Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014

Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014
Admiralty, Umbrella Revolution 2014

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back in Mui Wo, Aldeburgh, and Margaret Drabble

Back in Mui Wo. Wonderful trip. Except for Virgin Air. I HATE VIRGIN AIR. Cheap lousy service.

I haven't gotten it together to do my own photos. So here are Kath's posted. They more or less sum it all up, though I will also post my own soon. Stay tuned.

I was able to listen to a talk by Margaret Drabble--best known for her work on the Oxford literature series, but also an author of 17 some odd books. She was interviewed by another woman from Virago Press. Kath and I went, the audience mostly filled with the 65 plus crowd, holiday types in Aldeburgh, Stephen's birthplace which is now a tourist village.

Very professorial, as to be expected, interesting and I bought one of her books The Red Queen with much curiosity as it was based on the memoirs of Lady Hong--a book I had read some years back when doing a Korean Studies course in literature at UC Santa Barbara. Drabble mentioned how this book posed many legal complications due to the original translator's disapproval of her book (this was after, apparently giving Drabble the go ahead etc...). I dipped into the book (briefly) and was a little disappointed. Drabble stated that she wanted to explore this prescient woman's life and that her work was one of the imagination, but I remembered the actual memoir as far more compelling, provocative, and truthful--not meaning in the factual sense, but in the sense of the spirit. This was merely an interpretation of this memoir, from a particular Western feminist's perspective. Now all books and fiction writing in particular are subject to the leanings of the individual writer, but the book lacked the raw energy of the memoir. It was Drabble through the voice of Hong. I know the rest of the book explores the researcher of the memoir and it all ties up together later, but I did not have the energy to keep reading it. Maybe later. Still, I enjoyed Drabble's talk. Her academic credentials and editorial work is highly impressive and she is an astute woman. But the book The Red Queen did not sing. I'll have to try another.

I finally got around to reading A Thousand Splendid Suns. This narrative really moved, the story was compelling, reconfirming the various horrors of female oppression in Afghanistan and the tragedy of war and sexism. I liked it. It was entertaining. But I thought about this book and viewed it more as summer reading. Not for its subject matter, but for the way it was written. I could see it rolling across the computer screen. Some books are like that. But what I enjoy most about reading is when the words go up and down, when there is texture and you have to grip the words---words that crunch and roll and run away and make you go back and re-read them. I wonder if the computer sometimes takes this away. I seem to remember Fay Weldon discussing this. For some reason I thought of this book A Thousand Splendid Suns and wondered if the texture might appeal to me more, purely on the aesthetic level, if it had been first handwritten. Story and characters were great. It was something else I wanted from the book. What difference would handwriting have made, if any? Could have simply been the creative execution--maybe not handwriting versus comptuer at all. Then was thinking of Orhan Pamuk. Didn't feel that about his books. At all. Story and art.

And on other notes--

Keohi used the future "I WILL" and his two phrases of the holiday were as follows: "DON'T TOUCH THE PLUNGER" (toilet plunger) and "MR. LAM HAS BROKEN BIKE."


Renee Simms said...

Hey welcome back. Loved the photos especially the shot of the dead, eyeless boar (?) Will have to read A Thousand Splendid Suns...that's an interesting observation about language + computers.

Stephanie Han said...

That scary pig was ALIVE...