Saturday, February 14, 2009



last night i read a short story in STORY (winter 1999) which started with a very good sentence. Celibacy had been Lucifer's idea and i promptly fell asleep before the end of the first paragraph. The story was by an unknown woman writer (to me) by the name of Julia Whitty. the little info at the back of this literary quarterly mentioned that Ms Whitty's stories have appeared in Harper's among a few other publications. and she has also received a Bernice Slote Award for fiction in 1986. i've never heard of this award before and google doesn't help much. there was a mention about someone winning $500 Bernice Slote Award for the best work by a beginning writer so it must be one of those little awards to inspire aspiring writers to bigger things. in fact i too have been toying with this idea of setting up an annual prize for some kind of writing competition here . i was thinking to get the company where i'm working now to set aside some funds under 'club and recreation ' committee for this. but sometimes i'm just too damned lazy to push things through. i did put up a paper to improve one state zoo a few years back but my proposal lost to some other boring proposal. but anyway the point is, ms whitty whoever she is is quite an acomplished writer.

and me falling asleed before the end of the first paragaraph was not a reflection of her writing. it was quite captivating in fact. and that's quite something because i generally don't read women's writings very much (in fact very very little if any) . i don't mind short stories by women though. because with short stories you can finish in one sitting (unless you fall asleep half way through that is ). so me falling asleep before the first paragraph of Lucifer's Alligator (that's the title of the short story) had nothing to do with the story itself or my prejudice against women writers but was due to a couple of other things. one, it shows that i don't have any worries in the world, and two i was just dog tired.

it's quite ironic that the more i buy books the less i read and i can not remember when and what was the last fiction that i finished from cover to cover. it is unfortunate that the political scene in our country is always at the boiling point that even i who generally hate politics - and especially umno politicians whom i detest with all my heart - do get sucked in and i'm ashamed to confess that now i've become quite addicted to the rancorous political blogs and net newspapers and have little time left to read good writings. this is very bad for me. it's like a disease that i can't get rid off. malaysians writing have one fatal flaw. they lack sense of humor. malaysians can write the most mind boggling political anlyses and conspiracy theories but the only thing i get out of reading all this is just feeling very tired and angry. certainly not very good for my health.

i guess i'll resume my reading of lucifer's alligator at some point. may be tomorrow night may be next week. i know if it's in STORY it must be good. afterall j.d Salinger was first published in STORY. and it has been going on and continue to be published since 1931. but i don't know. with all these political wayang going on it's highly likely that i'll be glued to the screen reading incendiery political blogs for the next couple of months at least- and get tired and all worked up by 11 pm and leave no time to read anything else .

lucifer's alligator is quite a misleading title because the lucifer here is just a name of a hippopotamus and the story is about goings on in a zoo but perhaps there is a good similarity to what's going on here right now. replace the zoo with malaysia and the hippo lucifer with lucifer the christain satan and i guess the story is just about right for malaysia. the christian lucifer is certainly very busy in the state of perak right now. but i may be totally wrong . need to finish the story first. may be tomorrow night, may be next week , may be sometime later....

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