Tuesday, January 31, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the sea posts the opening paragraph (maybe two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). This is the First Chapter First Paragraph meme.

My entry this week comes from Martha Cooley's The Archivist

With a little effort, anything can be shown to connect with anything else: existence is infinitely cross-referenced. And everything has more than one definition. A cat is a mammal, a narcissist, a companion, a riddle.

Very true, very true. The complexity of human existence is best understood that everything connects to everything else in some fashion. Like Kevin Bacon.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Snapshot: Blue Lights

Saturday Snapshot is a weekly meme hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. The guidelines are to post a photo that you or a friend or family member have taken and then link it back to Alyce's original post for the week. Photos can be old or new and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see.

I took these shots with my handy Blackberry yesterday morning (it is the only camera I own). I'm currently working at a new office building and one of its 'claims to fame' is its Designed to LEED GoldⓇ certification. LEED designed office buildings offer cost effective operating systems, enhanced occupant health and well being and improve employee productivity. The certification makes sense, given that the building is for two energy companies.

All this focus on LEED produced these strips of blue lights marking the building entrance. These lights are very pretty and distinctive, but they are a bit much first thing each morning.

Walking up to the building feels like walking on an airport runway: stay between the lines and take-off safely!

The blue is almost as bright during the day; I wasn't thinking and forgot to take the same photos during daylight hours.

As an aside, these lights have been hit or miss with people. Last fall when the building opened, someone mistook the lighting for representing the entrance to the parkade and a slight vehicular mishap occurred. Eeck!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Adaptation: Salmon Fishing in Yemen

A fisheries scientist finds himself reluctantly involved in a project to bring salmon fishing to the wadis of the Highlands of Yemen, and change British political history and the course of his life.

Mmmmm.....Lasse Hallstrom and Ewan McGregor. Seems like an irresistible combination!

Book Beginnings on Friday

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Katy from A Few More Pages. Instructions are pretty clear: just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

 This week's entry - Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.

Only a few pages in and not sure if it will be one to finish. Anything that has even whiffs of sci-fi is difficult going for me--not sure why.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review: Wayson Choy, The Jade Peony

Written in a memoir-like fashion, Wayson Choy lays out a life and time of Vancouver’s Chinatown before and during the Second World War in The Jade Peony that is as beautifully lyrical as it is educationally dignified. Choy’s narrative spikes with moments of sympathy that cross gender, race, sex, and ethnic lines that shade in the boundaries of generational gaps and experiences. It also digs deep to explicate rather than exploit the delicacies of familial intra-relationships and the legacies imprinted in our psyche by each and all connection.

In one sense, The Jade Peony is a collective of ideals and individualization of desires. The triptych comprising Choy’s narrative spans three siblings living in the same immigrant household in Vancouver’s Chinatown. In another, it is a fragmented view into the dignity and pride that govern struggles for autonomy and personal identity amidst the broad strokes of collective heritage and experience.

Jook-Liang, the little sister, longs to be a performer in the vein of Shirley Temple. She finds a supportive and encouraging audience in family friend Wong Bak, a deformed elderly man from the old country. Jung-Sum, or second brother, is adopted from China and arrives in Vancouver weighed down by childhood traumas. He finds a sense of belonging and peace through boxing. Third brother Sekky is often plagued with illness and retreats within himself to cope. His witness to the forbidden relationship between a Chinese girl and Japanese boy forefronts the frightful and devastating consequences only intolerance can justify.

The binding for all these narratives is that of Poh-Poh, the “Old One” or Grandmother. It is she who bestows the jade peony to the children as their inheritance. More significantly, she bestows an even greater inheritance, that of a rich cultural heritage and the importance and necessity for holding on to the “old way."

Discrimination and poverty stream through the Choy’s prose not unexpectedly when one is attempting to convey early immigrant experiences. Choy tempers this pulse by aligning hope and wit parallel, refusing to allow his story and its readers to give into despair. His representation of a proud people struggling against financial, gender, ethnic, and sexual constraints is what truly makes The Jade Peony heart warming and dignified.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Mark: 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalists

The 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award finalists were announced over the weekend. I find it a little sad that I have not read any of these nominees; suppose a new library request list is in order! Winners will be announced March 8, 2012.