Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hard to find books

Apart from out-of-print books, I think Singapore also suffers from a lack of variety of titles. Why else would I have to order from so many times? (Or, it could be sheer laziness). But as with almost everything, it's both a blessing and a curse.

Slammerkin is an earlier book from Emma Donoghue (author of Room). It's incredibly good, and apparently, unavailable in Singapore. Granted, I only checked Borders (before it closed), and my favourite independent bookstore Littered With Books and oh wait. I just checked the Kinokuniya online catalogue. Looks like it's in this one chain. I take back all my comments.

But since this was an purchase, it arrived just before my IB exams. Which meant I had to delay reading it, after which, the glut of books that arrived (I'm now one happy, albeit overwhelmed, girl) meant that it might have been delayed even longer. But thanks to Amanda, who proposed an outing to Botanical Gardens to read, I managed to take it out this morning.

I must say that the Botanical Gardens is incredibly conducive for reading. I probably would have finished reading the book there if not for my little brother, whom I brought along. But thanks to him, we did get to explore the place and visit the Orchid Garden. Word to the un-informed: DO NOT buy any food there. It's way too expensive.

So yes, thank Amanda for this post, since the whole outing was her idea, and my brother had such a fun time he's already proposing another outing, this time to the Zoo.

Back to the book. Slammerkin follows the (fictitious) story of Mary Saunders, who did exist. I'm glad that not much information about her existed, because out of the thin, intriguing scraps that are available, a wonderfully entrancing story was made. The story details her descent into prostitution, her attempt to get out of it, and her final, tragic ending.

But despite what could have happened (i.e. the unlikeable narrator), Mary managed to stay firmly within the "likeable character" region. It's so easy to understand her longing for bright pretty colours (oh look! I see a YELLOW spongebob!) and to have an 'easy' life. Her distaste for her 'job' is also evident, and you can't really help but pity her as she becomes immune to life on the streets.

While I was rooting for her to have a happy ending, I actually do understand what happened. What I really admire her for was the way she treated the African girl Abi. While she wasn't nice all the time (keeping in character), her last act of friendship to refuse to betray her was more than admirable, especially as they weren't very close, and she's always stated that she wanted an easy life - and what could be easier than blaming Abi and getting away scot-free?

The other book that I was reading isn't a proper book, more of a list. But what a funny list it is. Bizarre Books: a compendium of classic oddities by Russel Ash and Brian Lake was one of the many books I picked up at this years Bookfest (although my mom was paying, I did limit myself to choosing books under $10). You should be glad most books can't be found, the titles may be interesting, but would you really want to read the contents? It's basically a collection of weird (unintentionally) amusing titles, which short descriptions/excerpts where needed. I'll end off with some of them so you can see for yourself:

The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts (Shinta Cho)

The Benefits of Farting Explain'd (Don Fartinhando Puffindorst, a pseudonym - probably Jonathon Swift)

Food for Survival After a Disaster. With Plates (Raymond Charles Hutchinson)

How to Draw a Straight Line (Sir Alfred Bray Kempe)

Be Bold with Bananas (Banana Control Board)

No comments :

Post a Comment

I really do appreciate all comments, and I'll try my best to reply within 24 hours!