Read And Misread In October

Reading often goes hand in hand with misreading. Being an immigrant and reading English as a second language have taught me this fact. At first this made me rather uncomfortable–the sense of uncertainty and self doubt following me like a shadow in a bright sunset, which means the shadow is much bigger and longer than my own figure. However, I’ve since got used to it.

“Modern Love” audible book by Daniel Jones, who’s the editor. It includes more than 40 tales, each around ten to fifteen minutes, by more than 40 authors. It’s easy to misread the title to consider this book as a collection of modern romance stories, which it is not. A more accurate title will be “Love And Unlovable Consequences”. The problem is that love is in a modest amount and consequences are huge. It could be that our industrialized social structure and value system are incongruous with out emotional needs. Is it so that any social structure will be a hindrance to our natural flow of love and emotions and human connections, which prefer a random unstructured existence?

“The Barbarians are Coming” by David Wong Louie. I thought of dropping the book when I had 70 pages left. I trudged through the first 300 pages and was at the end of my meager strength. Somehow I continued, not without a lot of mental flagellation to keep myself going. Now I still have 20 pages to go, but I know I would really enjoy throwing it away. Years ago I read “Jude The Obscure” and was so depressed by the story that I had to give up half way. These two books, about entirely different subjects and with very different writing styles, are similar in its depressing hopeless, almost suicidal, view of life.

“Aimless Love” by Billy Collins. It’s a delight to read his poems and he can always animate an inanimate object and award significance to the insignificant.

“Feminasty” by Erin Gibson. Half way through the book. I wouldn’t call it “nasty” at all. I would say it is asking questions of equality and can be named female in shining armors ready to fight and shout.

“We Wanted to Be Writers” by Eric Olsen. Finished it, but still find my own writing lacking. I feel like a movie director who imagine a lot of interesting scenes, but not able to reproduce them through the camera.

“How to Write Great Blog Posts that Engage Readers” by Scott Steve. Great suggestions, but whenever I try to follow the suggestions, I feel that my hands are tied and my writing just don’t flow as naturally. Why? I don’t know the reason.

Things I Want To Do But Can’t

Such a beautiful day today that one just wants to go out and walk about, but instead one’s stuck here staring at the computer screen. Sunny, a few clouds floating decoratively, 72 degrees, humidity not too high to mess up the hair and not too low to dry up the skin. There are only ten to twenty days each year in New Jersey that the weather resembles that of the California coast. Today is the day. It’s a day that makes one hate to be sedentary; it’s a day that makes one understand why some people would rather be homeless in California than toilers in New Jersey. I’ve only been to California several times and each time stayed for a short period. However I can say I don’t really like Santa Monica beach that much–too clean and too orderly as if I could smell the sanitizing detergent. Venice beach is much more lively and diverse, with a whiff of danger in the air. Pitch a tent on Venice beach and watch the crashing waves and reckless surfers all day long.

I want to finish this book today, but I know I can’t. The name of the book I don’t want to mention even if the author has died several years ago. I hate myself when I’m being too critical. I will feel much better if I just give up, but my habit of finishing everything I’ve started forces me to continue. So I continue, but not without bitter resentment. The book is killing me. I feel like being constricted by a python slowly and mercilessly without the hope of escape. Yes, the book is as long as a ruthless python–almost 400 pages and I still have 100 pages to go. To a slow reader like me, 100 pages take an agonizing eternity of time to read. The plot and the characters are made deliberately depressing. Pages after pages of depressing descriptions without respite. I have to say the life of this main character Lung is really not that bad at all and I don’t understand his antagonism against everything and everybody in his life. Why? His parents are unlovable. Somehow they fit in every Asian stereotype I’ve ever heard–they are bigots; they want to fix a wife on him; they treat son and daughter differently; their English very limited; their concept of milk restricted to powdered coffee creamer; their idea of food oily and even unclean. His wife foists a child on him and forces him to marry. His employer–the ladies in an up-scale club of some sort–treat him with benevolence mixed with racial prejudice. After describing his father as such an unlovable, uneducated, stubborn laundryman without taste bud for food and without skills to deal with people, the author suddenly starts to talk about his father’s beautiful dancing steps and his love affair with a local woman. Doesn’t he know that most readers are women who want to read love affairs of likable and lovable people? I admire his independence of will. He doesn’t wish to cater to his audience.