Friday, May 25, 2007



when i was around sixteen or so, i subscribed to TIME magazine. in those days what you need to do was just send the little piece of envelop-free form (postage prepaid) and just ticked 'bill me later'. you just simply get the form from the magazines in the school library. and you start getting your weekly issue till say the fourth issue and a polite mail will arrive telling you that you haven't paid up but please ignore the letter in case you've already paid and needless to say i just ignored the letter. After the tenth issue a decidedly stronger letter would arrive and i would just ignore this too and by the fifteenth issue you start getting a threthening letter that you'll be hauled to court and i would just ignore this too and after the 16th issue or so the magazines stopped coming, but by then I've already received four months worth of free magazines.

I would then get another little form from the school library and this time it would be THE READER's DIGEST. Same thing happened. then i would change to NEWSWEEK and the cycle completed, I'd send another application to TIME and the same thing kept on going.

and i did this for almost two years till near the all important MCE exams (equivalent to SPM now) when I stopped (for fear that god might be angry with my criminal act and would fail me- but seemed that god couldn't care less about me giving the crap to american magazine publishers because not only i passed but i was the only one selected from the whole school to study overseas ON SCHOLARSHIP)...

Perhaps because i was young and stupid i didn't realize the potential danger that i might actually be dragged to court ...but nothing actually happened . i never get any court summons , nobody from any of these magazines visited me.

the thing is, even at that relatively young age i very much preferred TIME to NEWSWEEK and i absolutely detested READER's DIGEST....the contents were interesting enough but i felt suffocated by the treacly writing and i imagined only women read reader's digest and perhaps they go on to reading mills and boons and all those danielle fucking steele and sophie kinsella and all those retarded chic lits in their twenties or older....i may be right too, i don't know...

but the thing i want to really say is this. In those days my favorite sections in TIME was already the book section in the back pages and to this day i still can not break the habbit of reading good magazines from back to front. and when i read a particularly interesting book or movie reviews i would write the titles on little piece of papers and put them in my wallet hoping to look for them in library (in case of books). the only problem was I never get to find any of these books in my school library.

But I kept these little piece of papers for years and sometimes very much later, i'd find what i was looking for and would be very happy. nine times out of ten those lists don't dissapoint. and thus i get to know about all those american authors norman mailer, gore vidal , john cheever, and the rest and read william wharton's strange book 'birdy' and much later saw the movie version with music score from my favorite singer peter gabriel...but on the minus side, up till now i still do not get to see federico fellini's amarcord (which has 100% good tomatoes rating on rottentomatoes) or read Ryszard kapuscinski's "The Emperor: The downfall of an autocrat" about the ethiopian emperor haile selassie.

but there's a form of consolation with regards to ryszard kapuscinski when i get to read the description of the emperor's funeral in one of the GRANTA volumes a while back.and now that it is so easy to download all kinds of stuff from all those computer peer to peer downloading programs i may try to look for amarcord one of these days....

and i will say this,(again). if anybody want to look for good writing there's no better place to go than granta. the first time i discovered granta was about ten years ago from one of those week end boot sale in wye railway yard , kent and my first volume was the issue on "autobiography" (vol 14 Dec 1984) and got it for 10p. Over the years i've slowly build up my collections - wholly from used bookstores and sales all over the globe from National bookstore, makati to that bookstore owned by an irish guy twenty paces or so from tapae gate in chiang mai to the strand new york to one of those bookstores from charing cross road london to thor kar hong's skoob and now, god bless them PAYLESS bookstores around kl...they always have a few around...and out of the ninety or so volumes from the first to the latest I have around seventy volumes and as my habit in my younger days i have here a piece of paper with the numbers of volumes that I've bought and those back issues that i am still looking for. when i find a new one I'll cross out the volume from my list and so on....

but sometimes i forget to bring the list and i couldn't figure out if I've bought this or that volume and to be on the safe side i just buy them only later to find out that I've them already and thus i end up with quite a few duplicate copies...and as i'm accumulating more and more books i keep on getting the same books twice and on rare occasions trice! which only mean several things...i'm an idiot, and i buy but DON'T read... true enough.

so in the case of granta i now try to make a point of reading at least one story or essay from each volume... and just finished reading giles foden "idi amin's banquet" which in fact transformed into an early part of the movie 'the king of scotland' which by pure coincident i saw on the plane to bangkok a week or so ago.....and several days back i just picked a volume at random and read one story at happend to be an essay by Thomas keneally in memory of the the guy who gave him the material to write schindler's list....and this get me interested to watch the steven spielberg's movie and i'll try to find it from one of my favorite pirates one day very soon....

The same thing happened to me... I buy but don't read. I bought the same 'April' issue of GLAMOUR UK recently that I decided that it's time for me to do my reading NOW.

yes i'm sure there are many like us...but for me this is ok... i like to look at rows upon rows of books in my library knowing that i can simply pick any one of them anytime...i consider them my harem...and i'm greedily addding more and more every month!
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