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Rambles' Ramblings

Ramblings, a salve for any hurts

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books

Books

It has been a long time since I enjoyed fiction. Nowadays, I spent more time with the computer than with the written words. However, a sale by my local bookstore afforded me the opportunity to pick up a few books around three weeks ago. To date, I have read two of the books (I know, I read too slowly), namely James Patterson’s ‘Jack and Jill’ and Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’.

This two books are vastly different, but also surprisingly similar in some aspects. ‘Jack and Jill’ is about how a psychologist tried to find a pair of serial killers who believed in the rightness of their actions. In ‘Inferno’, it is no longer criminology, but symbols that is on the table, leading to a genius who wanted to ‘thin the herd’ of humanity to reduce overpopulation. In both books, the main antagonists are people who truly believed their acts are morally correct and are more dangerous for that. The main difference lies in the subject matter itself. While ‘Jack and Jill’ concentrates on the mindsets of the serial killers and how Alex Cross, the protagonist, reacts to their taunts, ‘Inferno’ focused heavily on symbolism and religion combined with a healthy dose of dramatic spy work.

‘Jack and Jill’ is dissimilar with others of the genre. Not only is the narrative from a first person’s viewpoint, it is the viewpoint of the main protagonist, Alex Cross, a psychologist, interspersed with viewpoints from the killers of whom we are given tantalizing glimpse throughout the book before their identities are revealed. The ending is realistic enough in that when the killers are killed in prison, there’s no sudden clue to neatly wrap up the entire story of finally catching the killers and their employer.

For ‘Inferno’, the book is rich with religious and artistic symbols. The way it is laid out allows the reader (me!) to appreciate the genius of giants past and the genius of the characters within. It not only entertains, but also educates readers on part of the history of art itself. I will admit that I do not like ‘The Lost Symbol’, which is a bit too fantastical for my taste. Indeed, it has left the world of science and stepped into religion. I expected something like ‘The Da Vinci Code’ or the ‘Digital Fortress’ but it ended up quite disappointing. ‘Inferno’ has a certain logic to it that I can clearly see the implications if what suggested within the novel is made possible.

Both books are excellent reads. It is quite shocking to realize that I have rather neglected my habit of reading. Hopefully I will regain my habit with the start of these two books.

New House

I am not sure whether I had mentioned it before, but my family have bought a new house. We are going to move by the end of this month, so there are much to prepare.

The new ‘house’ is actually a townhouse. On the fourth and uppermost floor of that particular site, the view is quite nice from the balcony. Not astounding, no not with the price we get for the house, but nicer than from our old house. There are also less noise and cars around that area as it is primarily a housing estate. Excellent! Especially as the old house had been broken into five time in two years.

The new house have better security as there are significantly less entry points. However, the new house is also quite a bit smaller and so we find ourselves sifting through our respective belongings to decide which to discard and which to keep.

I have some trouble with the books. My collection, though not valuable to others, bear sentimental value. Some of the books I owned from when I started learning the letters. Of course, most of my storybooks are from secondhand stores and are thus in quite a disreputable state. After considerable hemming and hawing, I think I finally had discarded enough to fit the rest in my new room.

Oh, and for the first time ever, I am going to have my own room. Not one shared with my sister, which will be easier on both of us. I like to stay up late, but she needs all the sleep she got.

Maybe I will put up some photos of my new house soon? We will see.

Towards Another Summer

Well, tomorrow is my very last day of exams. Just my luck that it should comprise of examining two of my most hated textbooks. One, I wrote about it before, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, the other, Towards Another Summer by Janet Frame. English Literature, the bane of my college life.

I was told by my teacher that Towards Another Summer is a highly autobiographical novel of Frame. Hence, the instructions were that the book can only be published after her death as Frame cannot bear the thoughts of criticism. As with The God of Small Things, I have to admit that I do not like the story and style much. Again, no offense to Frame’s fans, it is just not my cup of tea.

The story talks about Grace Cleave, an awkward writer who doesn’t seem to know how to interact with people. Haunted by childhood trauma and the terrible experience of being put into an asylum even though she wasn’t mad, Grace Cleave felt as though she is a bird, migratory bird whom the humans cannot understand. Her childhood was riddled with moves all over New Zealand as her father was a railway worker. This is apparently the reason why she felt as though she is a migratory bird, always looking towards another summer since she had been moving all over the place since young.

Unfortunately for her, at that time, female writers were not well received. Add to the fact that she had once been sent to the asylum, people discouraged her from writing, saying that she should sell hats for a living. Horrible, insensitive people.

Grace Cleave’s strength and weakness both lie in her sensitivity. She was, as her name suggested, cleaved between her safe, inner world and the demanding outside world. People do not really understand her and she shrank into her inner world, apprehensive and fearful. However, she seemed to wish to at least show a semblance of normality and wish for companionship. This was shown when she accepted Phillip Thirkettle’s invitation to a weekend visit in Relham with his family.

Grace tries so hard that it isn’t even funny, it is heartrendingly pitiful. What in the whole wide world happens to her to cause her such loss of confidence? My teacher suggested the stay in the asylum and the mutterings of the people after she was released but I disagree. Although the asylum was terrible as with the gossip pf the society, she is now a writer of some success. Shouldn’t that boosts her confidence? No, I think the reason lay much deeper in her history.

I think the reason lies in her frequent moves during her childhood. Most of us have found ourselves thrust into a new crowd suddenly with little warning due to one or another reason. It is disconcerting and lonely at first until you get the chance to make a few friends. The problem is, it takes time, which I don’t think a young Grace had, what with her father moving around once every while.

Grace Cleave is truly a child within an adult’s body, as suggested by several websites. She looked at things with innocence rarely found in grownups.

Although the novella is hauntingly serene, I could not bring myself to like it, not the least of Grace’s character.

 

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