Posts tagged ‘books’

April 1, 2016

Hit or Miss, January-March 2016

Here’s what I have been reading and viewing so far this year


  • Secret Manta (Yeow Kai Chai)
  • 《文字就是生命》尤今
  • Life is Text (You Jin, English version)
  • Scifaikuest (recent and back issues)
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Mohsin Hamid)
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (David Sedaris)
  • The Forge of God (Greg Bear)
  • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (movie)
  • The Translator (Leila Aboulela)
  • Star*Line (recent issue)
  • Chimeric Machines (Lucy A. Snyder)
  • The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins)
  • Not Like a Native Speaker (Rey Chow)
  • A Fire Upon the Deep (Vernon Vinge)
  • Objects of Affection (Krishna Udayasankar)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
  • The Time Traders (Andre Norton)
  • All the King’s Men (Robert Penn Warren)



Neither Hit nor Miss

  • Jonah Hex (movie)

I think the read of the month for January was The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Translator for February, and in March, All the King’s Men.


July 1, 2015

Hit or Miss, May and June 2015

Here’s what I was reading and viewing in May and June


  •  A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M Miller)
  • The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
  • Mortdecai (movie)
  • Cake (movie)
  • Hugo (movie)
  • Defending Jacob (William Landay)
  • Divergent (Veronica Roth)
  • Barry Lyndon (William Makepeace Thackeray)
  • Typewriter in the Sky (L Ron Hubbard)
  • Fortune’s Lover (Rachel Pollack)
  • In the Blood (Jackie French)
  • Land of Mercy (Fan Wen; soon to be published MS)
  • Minions (movie)


  • Twenties are Gone (Felicia Atkinson)

Neither Hit nor Miss

  • Fairy Tales for Writers (Lawrence Schimel)

I think the read of the month for me was A Canticle for Leibowitz and The English Patient in May and Fortune’s Lover in June.

So how has recent reading and viewing been for you?

May 9, 2015

Hit or Miss, April 2015

Here’s what I was reading and viewing in March


  • The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
  • Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins)
  • Wild Grass (Lu Xun)
  • Remarkable Creatures (Tracy Chevalier)
  • Onkalo (Bernice Chauly)
  • Comedy in a Minor Key (Hans Keilson)
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (Jack Weatherford)
  • Digital Fortress (Dan Brown)
  • The End of Eternity (Isaac Asimov)


  • The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel (Maureen Lindley)

Neither Hit nor Miss

  • none

I think the read of the month for me was Wild Grass.

So how was April reading and viewing for you?

April 4, 2015

Hit or Miss, March 2015

Here’s what I was reading and viewing in March


  • High Rise (J G Ballard)
  • Calculating God (Robert J Sawyer)
  • Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)
  • Orientalism (Edward Said)

Back issue of 《科幻世界》


  • none

Neither Hit nor Miss

  • The Player of Games (Iain M Banks)
  • Macbeth: A Novel (A J Hartley and David Hewson)

I think the read of the month for me was either Interview with the Vampire or Orientalism.

So how was March reading and viewing for you?

March 10, 2015

Hit or Miss, Feb ’15

Here’s what I was reading and viewing in February


  • Flaubert’s Drum (Sugu Pillay)
  • Into the Beautiful North (Luis Alberto Urrea)
  • Origen (Theodore Vrettos)
  • The Killables (Gemma Malley)
  • Calico Joe (John Grisham)

Back issue of Outposts of Beyond and the most recent issue of Lontar


  • none

Neither Hit Nor Miss

  • Anathem (Neal Stephenson)

I think the read of the month for me was either Into the Beautiful North or Calico Joe.

So how was February reading and viewing for you?

February 7, 2015

Hit or Miss, Jan ’15

Here’s what I was reading and viewing in January


  • Night has a Thousand Eyes (Arthur Upgren)
  • Thud! (Terry Pratchett)
  • Interstellar (movie)
  • Coastlands (Aaron Lee Soon Yong)
  • Moving Diary (Miho Kinnas, unpublished MS)
  • The Song of Rowanberry (Ikuko Tanaka)
  • The Man with the Compound Eyes (Wu Ming-Yi)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (movie)

Back issues of Outposts of Beyond


  • none

Neither Hit Nor Miss

  • none

It was a good reading month, so very hard to pick a read of the month for me this time.

So how was January reading and viewing for you?

April 14, 2012

First Batch…!

I picked up the first batch of copies of Northern Girls from the Penguin office this week.  I’m really excited to see them available in shops in mid-May.


December 26, 2009

Repost: Something New for 2010

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Something New for 2010

Saturday, December 26, 2009

For the new year, I am starting a new project.  I will be offering poetry and writing coach services for people who are interested in learning or improving the writing craft.  You can see how it works on the website I’ve set up.


Engaging a poetry or writing coach can be a useful for:


  1. ✦people who have to write as a part of their job and would like to make their writing more effective


  1. ✦“closeted” poets and writers who would like to prepare their work for eyes other than their own


  1. ✦poets and writers who want to learn how to prepare manuscripts for publication


  1. ✦poets and writers who would like to better prepare their writing for publication, in hopes of receiving more acceptance letters


  1. ✦novice poets and writers who want to understand the conventions of writing better so that they can shape their work to interact with a community of other readers / poets / writers


  1. ✦readers, poets, and writers who want a broader appreciation of the tradition of poetry (see poetry courses)


Not every writer or poet is fortunate enough to have other writers with whom they can interact and share the writing experience.  Many writers would like to take their work to the next level, putting it into circulation and seeing it published, but are unsure how to go about the whole process.  An experienced coach can help poets and writers who find themselves in such situations.


I have decided to start offering coaching services because my own blend of skills, experience, and interests suit such an arrangement.  I have always loved reading and writing — the two activities in which every good writer is sure to be absorbed — and also teaching.  I have 6 years’ experience teaching undergraduates in the English literature department of a private university in Singapore, and more than 15 years’ experience tutoring adult students in writing (academic and creative).  I have always preferred individual training sessions to classroom time, as it allows for closer interaction between student and teacher.  In addition, it allows the pair to focus on specific needs rather than simply aiming to cover a set of material.  In one-on-one training, the focus is on the needs of the learner.  And I really like that.


As a writer, I have enjoyed seeing my own work grow over the past several years.  As an undergraduate student (20 years ago!), I was engaged to assist one of my professors in completing two manuscripts that he was preparing for publication.  Since then, I have done professional writing for more than 15 years, developing material for businesses ranging from entertainment giants to shrimp farms.  I’ve written material for historical societies, magazines, corporations, and advertising agencies.  I branched into more creative endeavors roughly 10 years ago, but mostly, at first, only helping with editing and proofreading.  After a while, I began to send out my own poetry for publication.  I currently have about 200 poems, book reviews, and articles in print or accepted for publication.  My first poetry collection, Cyborg Chimera, was released by Sam’s Dot Publishing last year, and 30 of my haiku appeared in dark ‘til dawn, a collection of designer art pieces.  I’ve enjoyed the process of growing as a writer, and hope to share that experience with others who are interested in engaging coaching services.


I am looking forward to 2010 and this new step in my own writing and teaching.  It is nice to bring my professional experience together into one service that I think can be of help to other writers and poets.






©2009 Shelly Bryant





2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
I hope this works out well for you!
Saturday, January 9, 2010 – 05:13 AM
Saturday, January 9, 2010 – 03:03 PM
December 14, 2009

Repost: Something to Look Forward To

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Something to Look Forward to

Monday, December 14, 2009

This is going to be a good Christmas.  I already know what I am getting from Santa, because my mom needed to ask whether I could make it work outside of the US.  She’s getting me a Kindle Reader from Amazon.  (I’ve borrowed one from a friend who got his for his birthday earlier this year, so I know I can get it to work in Singapore and Shanghai.)  It is going to be so nice to be able to carry loads of reading material with me, without it weighing so much.  Packing for all my travels just got so much easier.  (Thanks, Mom!)


I’m also excited to hear that Jasper Fforde has a new book coming out.  This is not a Thursday Next book, nor is it Jack Spratt.  It’s a new tale altogether, from what I understand, called Shades of Gray.  Fforde is one of my favorite writers, and I am really looking forward to this book, as it promises to be a little darker than his previous works.  A little darker, with all of his amazing humor and outstanding writing?  I can hardly wait.


I’m planning on ordering the Kindle version of Fforde’s new book, which will make a great package for me.  It will be great to have a new toy loaded up with a new work by an old favorite.


Does it get any better than this?






©2009 Shelly Bryant





4 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
I’m only a little jealous, but glad you’re getting something useful. Good thing you already knew that it would work for you. There are a lot of free books out there for the Kindle too. Just ask Wm. He knows.
Thursday, December 17, 2009 – 08:12 AM
My mom received it today, and set it up with my account.  I just spent the last hour or so sending free books to it.

Can hardly wait for it to arrive in Singapore now!

Thursday, December 17, 2009 – 10:46 AM
So far, I haven’t been tempted. I do see the advantage of being able to read a variety of books while traveling around without having to lug around hard copies. Plus, they show up right away when you find something new and just have to read it right now.

I’ll look forward to your upcoming Kindle reports.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009 – 11:42 AM
I’m loving it so far, Malcolm.  I thought I would mostly want to use it when traveling, so as to lighten my luggage.  But I’ve found that I wanted it with me when I was out of the house doing some work the past few days.  I had access to a couple of reference books, including a pretty nice dictionary, that I normally would have had to wait until I was home to go back and look at what I needed.  The ability to carry so much around in one little device is pretty handy.

And really, I don’t feel like I am looking at an electronic screen when I use the Kindle.  I don’t know how to describe it — it isn’t like paper, exactly, but the quality of print on paper is there.  It is really nice.

And, I like that this version of the Kindle makes it easy to carry PDF files.  I have printed out less material this week than I usually do, as I can store the material as a PDF file in my Kindle instead.  That has been handy for doing some reading of student papers and so forth.  I really hate reading on the computer screen, as it makes the eyes so tired.  This device enables me to read e-material, but without that fatigue to the eyes.  It is as good as advertised.

And the number and quality of free books available for the Kindle is fantastic!  I downloaded over 200 pieces for my mom to set up before she sent it over, and they are really quality stuff.  It’s great for people who like the classics, because there’s so much available for free.  In addition, I read a lot of ezines that make material available in PDF, and I’ve downloaded several of those for reading this week.  If you do much reading of material on the computer screen, then I think you would like the Kindle a lot, because you can read that same material on a device that feels more like a book (to both hand and eye) instead of on the computer, just by sending the PDF to the device.

Pretty great technology, I think!

Thursday, December 24, 2009 – 10:06 AM
November 23, 2009

Repost: Ebook Authors Supporting the Troops

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

E-book Authors Supporting the Troops

Monday, November 23, 2009

I just read an article about something my friend Malcolm Campbell is involved in,sending download coupons for e-books to deployed troops.  I thought it such a great idea that I wanted to give a little plug to the whole project here.


The project started when writer Ed Patterson was chatting with a soldier in the field.  The soldier mentioned the difficulty he had getting reading material for hisAmazon Kindle Reader.  The Kindle currently offers users the ability to get an amazing array of reading material at very reasonable prices — for those in the US.  The Kindle can’t be bought from an overseas account on Amazon (trust me, I know….), and if you buy one while in the US and take it overseas, you won’t be able to access the network.  The soldier, then, had a great product for keeping lots of reading material, but no means of updating his library.  Patterson decided to email a copy of his own e-books to the soldier.


That’s already quite a nice thing to do, but Patterson didn’t stop there.  He began rallying other e-book writers to send e-books to deployed troops all over the world.  My friend Malcolm, author of The Sun Singer and two Jock Stewart books, has joined in the program as well.  According to the article linked above, 60 people have already requested the code for downloading his books.


As Malcolm states in the article, this is a project independent of an author’s view of the war.  It isn’t about supporting a political decision, but about supporting the individuals whose lives are dictated by the decisions made.  I’m really glad to hear that Malcolm and other writers like him are doing this, and hope it will continue to expand.




© 2009 Shelly Bryant

2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
Thanks for helping to spread the word. I just sent out another e-mail to a sergeant this morning. It’s a great way for them to keep up with their reading under trying circumstances. I’m glad smashwords jumped in to help support the effort.


Thursday, November 26, 2009 – 03:23 AM
Me too, Malcolm.  I think it’s a great project.
Thursday, November 26, 2009 – 11:03 AM
October 10, 2009

Repost: Upcoming Projects

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Upcoming Projects

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cyborg Chimera

My first poetry collection, published by Sam’s Dot Publishing, has been released.  The poems probe into questions of programming and free will, hybridity, the subconscious, and all sorts of control mechanisms.  You can order your copy ofCyborg Chimera from The Genre Mall.



Speculative Poetry Anthology (a call for submissions)

Firstfruits Publications, Singapore’s most renown publisher of poetry books, seeks submissions for a poetry anthology slated for late 2010. The anthology will aim to introduce speculative poetry to a Singapore audience. We hope that this will generate more interest in genre poetry in the country, and that both poets and readers will seek to experiment more in the field. Our interest runs the gamut from hard science to mythopoeia to horror to fantasy to the surreal. We are interested in

finding a broad range of speculative poetry to introduce to a local audience.


You can send submissions to me at the address listed below. No more than 10 poems (of any length) per poet. If your work is accepted, there is a possibility we will solicit more pieces from you down the road. Submissions should be addressed to project editor Shelly Bryant at shellybryant (at) yahoo (dot) com.  (You’ll have to make that a usable address.)  Please put POETRY SUBMISSION and your name in the subject line, and include the poems in the body of the email. And please remember to include your contact information.  No reprints.  Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please inform the editor if the work is accepted elsewhere.


Payment will be in contributors’ copies, 2 per contributor.



Dark ‘til Dawn

Next month marks the launch of a project I am working on in conjunction with decollection, a Shanghai-based designer of soft furnishings.  The Dark ‘til Dawn series of designer art pieces is a space for the intermingling of my poetry and the paintings of Chinese artist Zhou Yu.  Each piece grew out of one of my haiku, with Zhou’s painting and lamp design developing around the imagery of the poem.  There will be 30 lamps in the collection, each a unique design, with a unique poem and painting hand-painted on the piece.  Each lamp will come with a birth certificate, and will be signed by the artists.


Watch for more information as the launch date draws nearer.



Pocket Guide to Suzhou

I have been engaged by Urbanatomy to write a pocket guide to the city of Suzhou. The book will be released next year, in conjunction with the World Expo, hosted in Shanghai.  Urbanatomy has published guides to Shanghai over the past several years, and is currently expanding its work to include other cities.  Suzhou is a beautiful place, and I am very pleased to be writing about it.


Expect the book to be released sometime in early summer 2010.  I will, again, include more information as we get closer to the release date.





It’s going to be an exciting few months, with lots of new projects on!  Keep an eye on this blog for more updates.




© 2009 Shelly Bryant

6 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
Exciting stuff, Shelly!  This should keep you out of trouble for awhile.
Saturday, October 10, 2009 – 11:50 PM
4Keep me out of trouble?  Might have to work harder than that…
Sunday, October 11, 2009 – 01:57 PM
WOW!! what awesome stuff you’ve got going! good for you! would love to see the lamps. is there a website for that?
Saturday, October 17, 2009 – 05:30 AM
It is exciting, silken.  The lamps aren’t quite done yet, as there are a few more to paint.  But, they are supposed to be done this week, and we’ll have the images up with the lamps ready to order on the 23rd, if all goes as planned.  It will be at the link listed above (  There’s a link to the company’s site from my main page, which I’ll change to the lamps’ site when they are done.

I’m very pleased with the way the lamps have turned out so far.  Zhou Yu has done a great job with the art work.  I hope next week, when they are finished, to do a little debrief of the process in an entry here, and will have more to say then.

Saturday, October 17, 2009 – 09:34 AM
It’s been a while since I’ve stopped by…looks like you’ve been busy!

I just ordered my copy of your book and can’t wait for its arrival!  :O)

Thursday, October 22, 2009 – 02:25 AM
Thanks for popping in, Beth, and thanks for ordering a copy of Cyborg Chimera.  I don’t think it is shipping yet, but should be very soon.

I have been very busy, and loving the projects I’ve been working on.  I’m looking forward to seeing things take a firmer shape over the next few months (year, really).  It will be nice if all goes as I hope with each of the projects…. is that too much to ask for????

Saturday, October 24, 2009 – 09:34 AM
September 12, 2009

Repost: Fill in the Gaps, Infinite Jest

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Filling in the Gaps:  Infinite Jest

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Last weekend, I finished one of the longest titles on my fill in the gaps 100 books list, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.  It is hard to say exactly how I felt about the book.  But immediately upon completion, I already knew it was one I would be thinking about for some time.  So, my comments here are not going to be a review per se, but a rundown of my responses to the book, more like what I would record in a reading journal. I begin with last Saturday, Sept 5, the day I finished the book.



Saturday, Sept 5

I’ve been working on this tome since May.  It hasn’t been an easy read, though parts of it were incredibly absorbing.  It took me a long time to get to those parts, but I am not sure if that had more to do with me as a reader and the state of mind I was in, or with the novel itself.  Anyway, the parts that were engaging were worth the read, even though there were large chunks of the book that did nothing for me.


The end of the book frustrates me.  It seems it did not end at all, in fact, and that I could just pick it up and continue reading the same old thing over again.  There is no resolution, which I more or less expected.  But worse, there’s no sense that we’ve come to a stopping place at all.  But then, perhaps that is because we’ve not really had a plot either.  It’s more like a prolonged rambling (in amazing prose, of course) that just comes to a sort of abrupt stop.



Sunday, Sept 6

The notion of Entertainment and its connection to addiction (perhaps only made possible by contemporary consumer culture) is so adeptly explored in Infinite Jest.  I think this is what there is to love in the novel.  When I read about the book, before having purchased it, this was what made me want to read it.  I have to say that the treatment of the theme(s) is somewhat disorienting.  Perhaps that is the way it should be, though, as a sort of representation of the mind-reeling abundance of Entertainment possibilities today.


The treatment of sex, drugs, and addiction as interconnected facets of the Entertainment culture was especially fascinating.  It isn’t so much that that’s a foreign concept to me, as that putting it right up against sports, movies, etc., gave it a whole different perspective.  The intertwining (or entangling) of these elements in the text is probably what I enjoyed most about it.



Monday, Sept 7

Depression.  Who could know more about it than David Foster Wallace?


I am usually not one to read the author in(to) the text he’s penned, but it was hard not to  have thoughts of DFW’s demise enter the head when reading some of the more eloquent passages about depression in Infinite Jest.  Those bits are so well-written, so piercing, so insightful.  Is it authorial intrusion into the narrative?  The modest training I’ve had in critical theory recoils at the suggestion, but the casual reader in me found it difficult not to see a good deal of DFW in those bits of prose that dealt so poignantly with the black dog.


One way or another, the book’s treatment of Depression is elegant.   The descriptions of a despondent mind’s thought processes and the understanding of the impulse that drives the depressed to actions that seem so irrational from the outside (including suicide), are so lovingly presented that it brings the melancholy horror of those feelings close to the reader, simultaneously allowing for empathy and examination.  Anyone who has experienced depression would recognize the truth held in those passages, the first-hand knowledge they present.  Anyone who has not experienced depression would probably do well to pay close attention, if they want to understand it from the inside.


On another note, I finished Velocity last night.  After the long 4-5 months it took me to finish the 6th book from my Fill in the Gaps list, I finished the next in just a day.  Infinite Jest is a demanding read.  It required a lot of slow, careful attention from me.



Tuesday, Sept 8

The whole treatment of Subsidized Time in Infinite Jest is the first thing in the book that really caught my interest.  It is funny.  It is handled with a wry cynicism that is just perfect.  The idea of selling ad space on our marking of time just makes me laugh, and is well suited to the book’s critique of our current situation in which everything is for sale — or at least open for sponsorship.   And, it is quite fitting that most of the action of the novel takes place in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.


I just happened across the Infinite Summer website today.  I didn’t know this challenge was out there.  I started a little early, and finished a few week’s before the challenge’s dates dictate.  But I guess I unwittingly joined this community of Wallace’s readers.  Well, not exactly.  But I did more or less follow their reading schedule.



Wednesday, Sept 9

The characters in Infinite Jest are not at all endearing to me.  I’ve read plenty of comments by other readers about the characters, mostly calling them “memorable.”  That might be true, but I don’t feel much for them other than a sort of detached interest.  Hal is, not surprisingly, the closest to a sympathetic character that I find in the novel, but even he is presented in such a way that seems to distance him from the reader.  In this way, the book reminds me of the Gormenghast novels.  There I have a similar feeling that the characters are not at all sympathetic, though Titus does, from time to time, invite you in a  little closer.  Infinite Jest struck me in much the same way.



Friday, Sept 11

One of the things about Infinite Jest that is really well done is the way the book shows the problem of drugs, and of addiction in general, being something that cuts across social barriers.  There are abusers in the book who are young, and those who are old.  Rich and poor.  Various races and backgrounds.  It runs the gamut.  Drug and alcohol abuse play a significant role in exploring the theme, but it is really much wider than these problems.  It is all in the context of addiction to consumption, which covers a whole lot more ground.  And perhaps why it is so all-inclusive.


I also like the way the book handles its critique of various programs set up to help people suffering from addiction.  It is not just the fact that it pokes fun of these things, but that it seems to hit hard at the notion of a system that treats all problems of addiction as a pre-packaged sort of thing, as if all addictions are built on an assembly line.  And, even more insightful, it discusses the way these support groups can become an addiction in themselves.  When one of the characters finds himself in the wrong meeting altogether, this idea is handled especially well.  Our addictions, it seems, can sometimes function as interchangeable parts.



Saturday, Sept 12

I’ve hardly scratched the surface of what all Infinite Jest has to offer.  I think it isn’t a book for everyone, but that those who do read it will find plenty there to think about for a good long time.  I find myself thinking of it several times throughout the day, pondering over little bits and pieces at different times.


I have a friend who has decided to read it, but not necessarily from beginning to end.  She’s more likely to flip through here and there and read whatever jumps out at her at that point in time.  This might be a very interesting way to approach Infinite Jest, as a linear, beginning-to-end reading isn’t necessarily the best way to really get into the book.  Anyway, I am interested in seeing how her reading experience goes.


I wouldn’t recommend the book to just everyone, but would enjoy hearing thoughts from anyone who does decide to tackle it.  There’s a good reason that it was so much a topic of discussion when it came out.  It really has a lot to offer.  Even though there were parts of the reading process that were quite a chore for me, I am very glad I read it now that I am done.





© 2009 Shelly Bryant


4 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
having never read the book, I must say that when I initially read this part of your post:

“The end of the book frustrates me.  It seems it did not end at all, in fact, and that I could just pick it up and continue reading the same old thing over again.  There is no resolution, which I more or less expected.  But worse, there’s no sense that we’ve come to a stopping place at all.  But then, perhaps that is because we’ve not really had a plot either.  It’s more like a prolonged rambling (in amazing prose, of course) that just comes to a sort of abrupt stop.

Sunday, Sept 6

The notion of Entertainment and its connection to addiction (perhaps only made possible by contemporary consumer culture) is so adeptly explored in Infinite Jest.  I think this is what there is to love in the novel.  When I read about the book, before having purchased it, this was what made me want to read it.  I have to say that the treatment of the theme(s) is somewhat disorienting.  Perhaps that is the way it should be, though, as a sort of representation of the mind-reeling abundance of Entertainment possibilities today.”

I thought the Infinite Jest and the notion of entertainment and its addiction were indeed the infinite jest, as well as the part of you never finishing it but could continue on and on and on reading it over and over again. kind of like those “how to keep an idiot busy” jokes (“A small card with “If you’d like to know how to keep an idiot busy for hours, turn this card over” printed on both sides.”) NOT THAT YOU”RE AN IDIOT, it just reminded me of that…his infinite jest….anyway, I thought it sounded funny! 🙂

Sunday, September 13, 2009 – 05:31 AM
That is exactly what it is like, silken.  And I think part of the thing the book is getting at is that we are idiots, an idiot society.  The society that built this whole entertainment culture must be an idiot, not just for building it in the first place, but for falling for the joke we ourselves set up.

In the book, there is a video cartridge in circulation that, once someone starts watching, s/he can’t stop.  THey watch until they die of it, effectively entertaining themselves to death.  Infinite Jest is the title of that film.  I read about this in the introductions to the book before I bought it, and it was this that really made me want to see what DFW had to say, since I always love reading him anyway.

In the end, the ideas were more absorbing for me than the actual reading experience.  But I could sure see how this book could suck someone in, putting the whole phenomenon it is talking about into action, even as it critiques it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009 – 07:45 AM
Monday, September 14, 2009 – 06:19 PM
娱乐至死 – that’s it exactly!  Entertaining ourselves to death.  Maybe DFW should have written in Chinese.  🙂
Monday, September 14, 2009 – 11:58 PM
August 29, 2009

Repost: Filling in the Gaps

This is reposted from my old blog.  I’ve imported the whole post, comments and all, into a single space here.  I’ve listed it here under its original date.

Filling in the Gaps

When I first heard about the fill in the gaps 100 books blog, I knew it was a place I would absolutely love.  I went over and made up my list right away, and have been reading the books I’ve listed there for the past several months.  Recent progress has been slow, as I am working on Infinite Jest, and it is rather a long read.  You can see my complete list here.


The list works as a means to prompt the reading blogger (or is it blogging reader?) to tackle a list of 100 books that are not currently on her/his TBR list.  The project is supposed to be completed in 2015, I think.  There are some really fun titles to be found on the various lists on the site.  As people are getting bigger and bigger portions of their lists taken care of, the discussions there are getting to be very fun.


I am, sadly, unable to access the site from China for the moment. (It’s rather fickle with access to Blogspot sites over here.)  As soon as I am back in Singapore, it is one of the places I hope to be able to visit and catch up.  All the same, I’m planning to keep up with my own list.  Since I can’t post my reviews or join the discussions there for the time being, I will put up comments from time to time here.  For now, I can say that of those I’ve completed (see the box to the right),The 8th Habit is the only one I didn’t like much.  Siddhartha was quite profound and enjoyable.  Woman to Woman and other poems and Mortician’s Tea are both good poetry collections, with moments of brilliance in each.  Poemcrazy is a fun thought-starter for poets, and maybe writers in other creative-type genres too.


As for the book in progress…  I’m struggling through Infinite Jest at the moment.  I expected to love this book.  Instead, it’s been a fairly tedious read for me all summer long.  I don’t know why I’ve had such a hard time getting into it.  I love David Foster Wallace’s writing, and usually love the type of tale he has put together here.  The themes are some of my favorites.  But it just isn’t working for me yet — and I am nearly 600 pages into it (in other words, not quite 2/3 done).  It’s disappointing to be unable to get into a book that I actually thought would be just my thing.  But still… I have a feeling I might be glad I read it when I am done.  My interactions with Wallace’s writings in the past have taught me that much.  Even his simple work, like introductions to anthologies, can be outstanding pieces.


If you haven’t gotten your 100 books list together, you might want to pop by over at the site and sign up.  It is a lot of fun to be in on the project with the others who read and blog there.



© 2009 Shelly Bryant

Saturday, August 29, 2009

2 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry
I ended up not finishing INFINITE JEST. It’s been so long since I had it, I don’t remember the reasons now. Something near the beginning really bugged me, so I was–as I recall–reading with a bad attitude.

The site you mentioned is an interesting concept.


Saturday, September 5, 2009 – 02:33 AM
That’s actually how I felt too, Malcolm, that I was sort of reading with a bad attitude.  I stuck with it throughout the summer, thinking I would finish it before leaving Singapore for Shanghai, but still had maybe 300-400 pages to go when it was time to make that return.  Since I got back, I have just about finished (should be done in the next hour or so).    It is one of those books that I am glad, now, that I’ve read, though I can’t say I enjoyed the entire reading process.  Parts of it have been completely absorbing. The ideas have been engaging.  The writing is good. The topics are of interest to me.  But for all that, the reading has been something of a chore for me.

And yet… I am glad I’ve read it.  There are some good things in it — really good.  And as I’ve talked with a couple of different friends about the book, it’s begun to click for me what I do like about it.  It will still take some time to sort through, but overall I am already starting to be glad this one was on my Fill in the Gaps list.

You might really enjoy having a list like that too, Malcolm.  I know you are a good blogging reader.  The place is just made for that, and I could see you really getting into it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009 – 11:27 AM