Occam’s Razor

October 18, 2007

Atonement

In the mail today: some documents from the Foreign Affairs and a copy of Ian McEwan‘s Atonement — the main reason why I have this wild grin on my face. I have previously read Atonement about six years ago (bought the book twice and lost it twice) but I felt this strong urge to read it again due to the Booker Prize fever I am currently having.

My problem has been that here in Hanoi it is so difficult to get books that I’d care to read. Yes, I was able to get a copy of Catch 22 and Mr. Nice but they’re rip off’s as in photocopies of the real books — xerox with a putrid ink scent from a possibly beat up copier with the edges of the pages coming off as you flip through the book. It’s horrible! I have scoured all the bookstores here and saw quite a number of interesting titles. Alas, they are all translated in Vietnamese and possibly censored, too.

This of course made me want to acquire books even more. More than any time in my life I am craving for literature. I wake up each morning reaching beside me for a book but there is none! I tried to quench this urge by reading blogs like a total maniac but nothing beats the feeling of leafing through pages and hearing that flicking sound of pages turning while avoiding a nasty papercut. Or smelling ink on paper while you are in the midst of say Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love.

Thanks to my ate for sending me Atonement, I am finally going to be able to read good literature of the non-boring kind. Quite honestly I would rather read a good book again than waste time in say, HP ooops did I hurt any fans’ feelings? Oh, I blogged about HP before and yes I will someday try to read the darned thing when I’m done re-reading Ian McEwan.

Is it too obvious now that I am a rabid fan? If you’ve previously read Ian (yes first name basis) you’d know what I’m talking about. If not, well YOU HAD BETTER READ THE GUY! I usually recommend reading Enduring Love first because that book has the best opening scenes (yes scenes) I’ve read in the past ten years. Its exposition of a person with de Clerambault’s Syndrome (a disorder which makes the sufferer believe that another person is in love with them) and how it affected the life of his character Joe Rose is far from clinical as it is sordid. The subject itself is very interesting, I mean how many times have you had suspicions that a particular person is in love with you or vice versa? In this book, your suspicions become real and you’d have a very close glimpse of your vain thoughts and feel how these suspicions, translated to reality, can actually be completely destructive and tragic in a non sappy kind of way.

But the best thing about Ian is that he writes with so much ease that as many critics say, it’s as though the words are transparent and what he writes is not even inked on paper but are mere thoughts that are flowing in your mind or are scenes that you see with your naked eyes. Flipping through an Ian McEwan book is like watching a movie with perfect cinematography, compelling story and real life dialogues. His characters’ thoughts make you feel telepathic.

Enduring Love was made into a movie in 2004 and it didn’t quite work for me. So I’m hoping that Joe Wright’s movie version of Atonement will do the book some justice. He did a pretty good job with Pride & Prejudice. Atonement stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. It is a tale of how one small mistake (in this case a kid’s annoying mischief) can have dire life-long consequences. (This actually reminds me of Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder in a weird stroke of parallel). Read the book first before you watch the movie. Always works best that way.

Yesterday, this year’s Booker Prize was awarded to Anne Enright for her book The Gathering. I was rooting for Ian to win for On Chesil Beach although I haven’t read it yet (kasi nga walang expat friendly bookstore dito sa Hanoi), mainly because I feel that he should have won for Atonement on 2001. But then again this ain’t the Oscars with a backlogged awards system. I was told that On Chesil Beach is his weakest work but damn he still got shortlisted for the Booker. Ian has previously won the Booker Prize for Amsterdam.

I already emailed bookstores in KL so hopefully when I go there next month I will bring with me tons of books to keep me occupied for a few months here in Hanoi. Until then you can choose to send me a book or two because you’re, well, in the mood to do so. Teehee! Hint: I’m trying to put together the six shortlisted books for this year’s Booker:

·         Darkmans by Nicola Barker

·         The Gathering by Anne Enright

·         The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

·         Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

·         On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

·         Animal’s People by Indra Sinha

Message me if you want my mailing address. Yeah, like seriously!

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