Monthly Archives: April 2011

Stories – All New Tales Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

Sometimes I like to get to know a book backwards. Just turn to its last pages and see what I can find. And at the end of this one, I found the following:

“I meant to put my hands on her shoulders to hold her still but when I reached for her they found her smooth neck instead.”

First impression may not be the most accurate but it is the most powerful. I had one of those feelings of- I need to get this now– that happens every now and then but not too often. And in this case I was glad to see my first impression was also accurate.

And so, it wasn’t until later on when I got home and read the words again, that I noticed the author of the story that got my attention was none other than Joe Hill, and his little weird story was called “The Devil on the Staircase”.

Stories brings together 27 short horror tales into a beautiful collection. It starts with Roddy Doyle’s “Blood”, a rather funny and chilling story that’s a very strong first step on this horror journey.

Neil Gaiman contributes with “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains”, a story that builds up slowly in an odd folk-tale like fashion until the unexpected conclusion at the end.

Catch and Release” is another one of my favorites. It is a seemingly normal tale and I was deceptively lulled into complacency as I began to care about the main character and at the end it delivered such a turn as to send tendrils of fear down into my very soul. It made me think a chilling thought: yes, this could very well be true.

Juvenal Nyx” is quite a nice twist on a vampire story whose end left me wanting more.

Jodi Picoult’s “Weights and Measures” was an amazing story of grief and loss and how it can transform people and not just in the psychological sense.

Unwell” and “Parallel Lines” are about the relationships between two sisters and how those blood ties become thick ropes of bitter emotions.

Human Intelligence” started out rather slowly but the end was so unexpected and funny, it made me smile.

There were a few stories I didn’t care much about but they made me appreciate the ones I liked even more.

A very entertaining book with gripping tales and unexpected endings and a just below the surface feeling of the surreal which makes one wonder, for a fraction of a second, if they couldn’t very well be real.

Read in April 2011.

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An Easter experiment

Eggs, colorful eggs… that’s one of the things I like about Easter. I wanted to make some dyed Easter eggs but with none of that special dye to use, I took a friend’s advice and tried food coloring instead. With a little help from Google I prepared the dye and let the eggs soak in it for a few hours. The result is far from perfect (my mother was much better at this) but I had fun and in the end that’s all that matters. 🙂

Happy Easter!

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Thou shall lose a few battles before you win the war

How very true, especially when it comes to weight loss. This particular new year resolution crumbled after less than two months at the gym. The truth is, I got bored. The same setting, same routine, same people, same, same, same… That has been my greatest enemy before, and apparently, after a few years of victory, it has come back again to challenge me. So I gave up on going to the gym and took a break. I ate, and slept, and baked (doesn’t sound too good, does it) and read, and just didn’t give it a lot of thought for a while. Until my clothes started shrinking just a bit and then a little bit more and then I knew I had to get back on track.

I figured I’d go back to the beginning and start walking for an hour every day and also give my dumbbells another chance. 😀 I also have a jump rope waiting for me in a box (one other great thing about house cleaning is that you find useful stuff among the useless ones – I may have mentioned that before).

Today has been my fourth day this week.

Let the new battle begin.

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A rather long one

So you want to be a writer?

by Charles Bukowski

If it doesn’t come bursting out of you

in spite of everything,

don’t do it.

Unless it comes unasked out of your

heart and your mind and your mouth

and your gut,

don’t do it.

If you have to sit for hours

staring at your computer screen

or hunched over your


searching for words,

don’t do it.

If you’re doing it for money or


don’t do it.

If you’re doing it because you want

women in your bed,

don’t do it.

If you have to sit there and

rewrite it again and again,

don’t do it.

If it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,

don’t do it.

If you’re trying to write like somebody


forget about it.

If you have to wait for it to roar out of


then wait patiently.

If it never does roar out of you,

do something else.

If you first have to read it to your wife

or your girlfriend or your boyfriend

or your parents or to anybody at all,

you’re not ready.

Don’t be like so many writers,

don’t be like so many thousands of

people who call themselves writers,

don’t be dull and boring and

pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-


The libraries of the world have

yawned themselves to


over your kind.

don’t add to that.

Don’t do it.

unless it comes out of

your soul like a rocket,

unless being still would

drive you to madness or

suicide or murder,

don’t do it.

Unless the sun inside you is

burning your gut,

don’t do it.

When it is truly time,

and if you have been chosen,

it will do it by

itself and it will keep on doing it

until you die or it dies in you.

There is no other way.

And there never was.

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About writing

It goes something like this: every morning I tell myself that it’s a new day, new beginning, new opportunity to finish the story I started a while ago, new… name it. Then suddenly I remember I have to do a dozen little things, like laundry, cleaning the house, giving the dogs a bath or even trying out a new recipe, yeah, you name it. My laptop sits on the desk all by his lonely self and if it could speak or at least give me a look, I bet it wouldn’t be a nice one.

Maybe I’m too relaxed and my mind cannot take that much silence and sitting around the house. I can blame the Songkran for that. I just hope it’s going to be over by tomorrow, when I may be brave enough to venture outside and into the wide world (or maybe just to the supermarket) without being drenched in water as it is the custom here during the Thai New Year celebrations, or Songkran by the local name.

Back to my story, or should I go have a snack, read a book or watch a movie ….you name it. Ah, here we go again!

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A Photograph

A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.

(Diane Arbus)

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What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty

Once in a while I like to just go into a bookstore and choose a book at random. It has to be a title I’ve never heard of before by an equally unknown author. It’s like a little game, my little book-game. The name of this particular book sounded intriguing so I bought it.

This is a book about travelling back in time and getting a second chance.

Alice, the main protagonist of the story, is a busy mom with a tight schedule and an even tighter outlook on life. She’s organized and always rushing about with a million things to do, until one day she suffers an accident that erases the last ten years of her life from her memory. She doesn’t remember her children, friends, or why she’s divorcing her husband who she was crazy about but now doesn’t seem to be the fun-loving amazing guy she married all those years ago.

We get to see the story from the point of view of different characters and in different forms: Elisabeth’s (Alice’s big sister) letters to her psychiatrist and the “honorary” grandmother’s blog (a nice touch that comes to emphasize the times we live in).

The plot unravels at a slow pace, as Alice starts to remember bits and pieces of a former life that seems very strange to her. Her efforts to fit in the life she’s apparently had for the last years are touching and she tries very hard to erase the word “divorce” that now stands between her and her husband Nick. And then one day something happens and she gets all her memories back.

This book has more or less the feel of a modern fairytale, even though the end is not as convincing as I hoped for. It makes one think about how much things can change in a decade and how it is possible to have it all back if you really want to.

Read between April 8-10, 2011

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Under The Dome – Stephen King

There is nothing quite like a Stephen King book.

I was actually nervous when I thought about writing a review for this book. I have bought and read more Stephen King books than I can remember, and yet this is the first review I’m attempting. I almost feel like I’m writing a test paper.

Reading Under the Dome felt like coming home. I get a familiar feeling when I have one of King’s books in my hands, and I’m saying to myself “this is going to be another good one”. Turns out it was.

First I had to get over the fact that Under the Dome is such a HUGE book and I don’t normally like huge books. Only looking at them makes me want to groan inwardly and think “how long is it going to take me to get through that?” And what if the story just drags on and I get bored. On the other hand, this is my favorite author we’re talking about here so the thicker the book, the better.

One thing I’ve always liked about King’s writing was the way he can show the reader exactly what his characters are thinking. It’s almost voyeuristic.

In Under the Dome there are all sorts of characters, and they are put into groups, us and them. From Junior Rennie, he of the huge headache, to the kids and the dogs, they all play their parts in this “experiment” that seems to take over the town all of a sudden as a huge invisible dome slams down around its borders and BOOM!, everyone’s a prisoner. The comparison with an ant nest feels adequate but this time it’s people and not ants that are powerless to act. Things get interesting as old rivalries flare up and new connections are made.

I enjoyed the references to other books, both contemporary and classic. Lee Child’s character, Jack Reacher, was mentioned a couple of times and I was glad I read Nothing to Lose just a few months ago. A Streetcar named Desire was another that caught me by surprise and made me smile.

The end is odd to say the least, considering I was never the one to buy into the “others” concept but then the best part is not the predicament itself but how people react to get out of it. And King is the perfect writer to show us how that happens.

Read between March 30-April 7, 2011

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Rainy Sunday

The weekend is here at last and what’s even better is that a whole week of holiday stretches ahead.With that prospect in sight how can one be anything but cheerful? It can happen, believe me. The weather can do that to you. More and more I feel like there’s someone with a huge remote control somewhere (pointing skywards) saying, oh can I push the button, can I do it now? And somebody else says, not yet, it’s still Friday, you idiot, wait until the weekend is well under way, then you do it. An exasperated sigh follows and then Sunday is here with the same question and the answer this time is yes, fine, you can do it now. Click, and the rain just pours down, the thunderous booming a certainty, the sky a blurry white, and raindrops cascading down from the awnings in almost straight lines.

Holiday=rain. Elementary, my dear Watson.

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Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.
(Will Rogers)

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