‘King Rat’, J. Clavell

This is not actually a review of the book but the dedication I saw in there today, for two reasons. Firstly, aside from counting the book as one of the very good, I cannot remember much of the style and appearance to be able to review it properly. Secondly, the dedication is amazing in itself.

Here you go:

For those who were there and are not. For those who were there and are. For him. But most, for her.

And if you take into account the story in a prison camp run by a ruthless group of people from where return is not certain at all, I believe that this dedication is a very heartfelt prayer to everyone there and home. For indeed — if a person fell and was confirmed, the people home knew of that fate. In a prison camp though, who could tell the folk back home what was happening….

But most, for her.

I guess I could add: For those who kept faith.

“To Spend Time On Reading…”

The original post can be found here, but since it touches greatly on writing and literature and reading, I have decided to post it specifically on this blog-side as well (with very few minor edits). Here it is.

Lately, I’ve read quite a bit — science fiction mostly, the rest would fall under the genre of philosophical writings. I’ve also got my hands (finally, around six-seven years after starting with the first book!) on ‘Noble House’ and ‘Whirlwind’ which means that when I wish to continue reading about British arrogance and commerce in the Far East I can freely continue doing so. James Clavell is a bit too good to miss out, so I’m planning to take it up as one of the next (not the next though: first I’ll make sure I’ve got all of the New Republic Era //all == as much as I can and have// read; after that a bit of Mahan, and then, I guess, onwards to the Clavell books).

I started using an interesting web-site called GoodReads.com. Seems to keep a list of what I’ve (you’ve) read — something that I consider rather useful. I have tried to keep such a list in the past but it never works out; on the computer/online it should amount to something better though.

Reading the New Republic Era has made quite an impression though: with the previous ten-odd books by John Marsden (on Australia and such) and now a whole lot by different authors I’ve seen how there’s a difference between styles, and what that actually means. Just to bring out a few, then if we look at Matthew Stover (my friend Natalie would probably cringe just on hearing his name) then he often starts long discourses about things not-that-directly related to everything else. Yet, it suits me well since I see the relevance of the things he poses and it creates a deeper background; Roger MacBride Allen on the other hand uses deeply comical situations along with fast-paced action which has made me like the overall depth less though the few scenes that are in all of them do make a sort of impression as well as the characters he creates; Timothy Zahn is just great, of his creation is the tactical genius Thrawn and I believe that (much like John Howe in his newsletters) Zahn allows himself to dedicate the entire artful being that he projected into Thrawn into the entire action of his writing — the books simply flow and while not as funny as MacBride Allen’s they still offer a sense of completeness and thoroughness; finally, Mr Marsden…

Ah, John Marsden’s books… I have to say, it might have been the first young adult (or whatever-nonsense they call that) series that I ever read, but it was good. Enjoyable. The language, as has been often noted, was exactly that — deeply in line with the intended audience. The books — content — is not that wonderful in the Tomorrow and Ellie series but it is still an interesting question to wonder about, especially given the war is a simple background setting to the larger problem of human interaction. I do deeply recommend reading Marsden and not for the same reasons for why people should read either J.R.R. Tolkien, J. Clavell, W. Somerset Maugham, or Kawabata Yasunari. No, the reason to read John Marsden is to read about becoming human/inhuman, growing up — no, maybe not quite that: I cannot place my hand (paw?) on what it is that is there, but there’s something worthwhile… it is not the beauty of the style nor any other obvious literary quality, but something less tangible perhaps (or therefore, instead, more tangible?).

I did also want to say a word about a few of the characters that have struck me as wonderful as few can be from the New Republic era books that I’ve read, but I believe I’ll keep that for another time now.

 

To Spend Time On…

… reading. Lately, I’ve read quite a bit — science fiction mostly, the rest would fall under the genre of philosophical writings. I’ve also got my hands (finally, around six-seven years after starting with the first book!) on ‘Noble House’ and ‘Whirlwind’ which means that when I wish to continue reading about British arrogance and commerce in the Far East I can freely continue doing so. Clavell is a bit too good to miss out, so I’m planning to take it up as one of the next (not the next though: first I’ll make sure I’ve got all of the New Republic Era //all == as much as I can and have// read; after that a bit of Mahan, and then, I guess, onwards to the Clavell books). 

I started using an interesting web-site called GoodReads.com. Seems to keep a list of what I’ve (you’ve) read — something that I consider rather useful. I have tried to keep such a list in the past but it never works out; on the computer/online it should amount to something better though. 

Reading the New Republic Era has made quite an impression though: with the previous ten-odd books by J. Marsden (on Australia and such) and now a whole lot by different authors I’ve seen how there’s a difference between styles, and what that actually means. Just to bring out a few, then if we look at Matthew Stover (Natalie would probably cringe just on hearing his name) then he often starts long discourses about things not-that-directly related to everything else. Yet, it suits me well since I see the relevance of the things he poses and it creates a deeper background; Roger MacBride Allen on the other hand uses deeply comical situations along with fast-paced action which has made me like the overall depth less though the few scenes that are in all of them do make a sort of impression as well as the characters he creates; Timothy Zahn is just great, of his creation is the tactical genius Thrawn and I believe that (much like John Howe in his newsletters) Zahn allows himself to dedicate the entire art-ful being that he projected into Thrawn into the entire action of his writing — the books simply flow and while not as funny as MacBride Allen’s they still offer a sense of completeness and thoroughness; finally, John Marsden

Ah, John Marsden’s books… I have to say, it might have been the first young adult (or whatever-nonsense they call that) series that I ever read, but it was good. Enjoyable. The language, as has been often noted, was exactly that — deeply in line with the intended audience. The books — content — is not that wonderful in the Tomorrow and Ellie series but it is still an interesting question to wonder about, especially given the war is a simple background setting to the larger problem of human interaction. I do deeply recommend reading Marsden and not for the same reasons for why people should read either J.R.R. Tolkien, J. Clavell, W. Somerset Maugham, or Kawabata Yasunari. No, the reason to read John Marsden is to read about becoming human/inhuman, growing up — no, not exactly that: I cannot place my hand (paw?) on what it is that is there, but there’s something worthwhile… it is not the beauty of the style nor any other obvious literary quality, but something less tangible perhaps (or therefore, instead, more tangible?).

I did also want to say a word about a few of the characters that have struck me as wonderful as few can be from the New Republic era books that I’ve read, but I believe I’ll keep that for another time now.
 

On the Plethora of Arts

Who would have assumed that swimming can be a martial art?

Went to see a friend in a hospital. Hope she’ll be fine soon. Are illnesses good or bad? Leaving aside the question of what is ‘good’/’bad’, what are the benefits or drawbacks that illnesses cause?

Watched an episode of Stargate SG-1 after a very long time. Reminded me how good a tv show can actually be — that a show does not need to touch only the horrors of society in an attempt to picture them (no matter how sharp the description here, Caprica and BSG did this quite well), but it can simply be… humorous… and friendly.

Swimming — suiei –> suieijutsu. Swimming as a martial art. Moats to cross, rivers to pass. Sword overhead, swimming quietly or powerfully. It is an amazing conception that anything can be a deep specialization. It is also worthy of longer thinking.

James Clavell: Haven’t read a bad book by him yet. ‘Shogun’, ‘Tai-Pan’, ‘Gai-jin’ are all excellent. Is it my fascination with the Far East which forbids me from rating Clavell any lower, or is he simply a good writer? How often do personal opinions on the content of a book actually affect the opinion on the writer? With Maugham, the same applies. Is he great (for me) because he writes about the Far East, or is Far East only a setting to unleash his greatness?

The lack of civility by the western people. Civilization or not? Who is the true barbar?

Tianxia.