Wednesday, August 26, 2009


presidential read

i was thinking about posting something about henry chinaski (hank) vs holden caulfield as i've been having a bit of charles bukowski binge lately. j d salinger's cathcer in the rye(with angst ridden holden caulfield as the protagonist ) has been one of my all time favorite books- until that is - i met the young and obnoxious (and angst ridden) henry chinaski in charles bukowski's ham on rye. not sure if bukowski's book and the title alludes to jd salinger's book in anyway and i'm not one of those literature mechanics to take apart and find deeper meanings in books. i just read purely for pleasure. so i'll just leave it at that.

but then i stumbled upon this interesting slate article on us president's obama's summer read so i thought i'd post my 2 cents worth of comments instead. (chinaski vs caulfield will have to wait).

what people read always fascinate me and most times i can and do form a personal judgement if a guy or gal is an idiot based on their reading materials. not that i worry too much if a girl is an idiot (i prefer them stupid) as i often find smart- ass women rather boring and irritating most of the times...

but it's of course more complicated than that. take obama's current list for example. if he's just another boring lawyer friend of mine, that list of books would not say anything much about my boring lawyer friend. it doesn't help that i've not read any of those books and only familiar with just one author in the list(plainsong). and since i'm completely ignorant about any of these books i will just shut up and take what this slate article says as a fair view.

this is a president we're talking about. even if he reads ian fleming's james bond book people will perk up and take notice and try to look for deeper meanings in it . and according to this slate article no less than john f kennedy himself said that he read james bond novels for relaxation. and as this article say...

...but those books also seemed to say something about the man who read them. It was just too fitting that Kennedy was reading about a debonair Cold War rake who made his own rules.

yes, just like him...and poor bush... when he chose albert camus' the stranger as one of his summer reads in 2006 there was a bit of raised eyebrows and a lot of derision.

slate again

I'm not sure what to make of this. It's usually college freshmen who suddenly take up the French existentialist's slim volume, and then usually to impress some literature major with wavy hair

and as the slate article described the book....

The main character, Meursault, spends much of his life as the young George Bush did, engaging in escapades that demonstrate little drive or motivation. On a visit to the beach with friends, he gets into a fight with some Arabs. Later, he finds one of the Arabs and without much further provocation shoots him repeatedly.

so in a sense as the (second) slate article put it...which, if you wanted to overinterpret things, gave you enough material to get you through a few packs of Gauloises. never mind that i don't know what the hell gauloises is and have never eaten any . still, sounds like the kind of books i will like. note to myself: must read it someday.

and i also remember reading a funny column in the herald tribune on a plane to somewhere about this and was even moved to do a post on it (and gave my usual rambling 1 cent worth of opinion on it).

and what about our top man? i wonder what najib reads (if he does at all). i remember there was an article in the local paper sometimes back describing najib's library and what i remember most was that there were piles of unopened and still shrink wrapped books in the library. presubambly sent by publishers. and one of the books was dan brown's da vinci code. mercifully still untouched and nicely shrink wrapped. so we didn't get to know in the end what our pm reads. i guess najib would do well to read collections of tuan guru nik aziz's lectures. somebody ought to give these as a present to him.

in fact i can't recall any of our top men ever mentioned the books they read for relaxation. we know that some of them 'write' books but what do they read? we all know pak lah used to at least pen one poem. so in a sense he's quite a poet. someting about searching for al-ghazzali but of course as we all know what he found was just fucking khairy....

obama's summer reads

The Way Home by George Pelecanos, a crime thriller based in Washington, D.C.;

Lush Life by Richard Price, a story of race and class set in New York's Lower East Side;

• Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded, on the benefits to America of an environmental revolution;

John Adams by David McCullough;

Plainsong by Kent Haruf, a drama about the life of eight different characters living in a Colorado prairie community.

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