Lovers and Strangers Revisited by Robert Raymer

Taking a break from novels, I’ve decided to indulge in a book of Malaysian and Asian short stories written by creative writing lecturer, Robert Raymer. Lovers and Strangers Revisited was recently voted most popular in the fiction category of the Popular – The Star Readers’ Choice Awards 2009. I’ve also gotten to know about Raymer when he contributed an article for my campus newspaper.

The title itself is captivating and I can definitely say the same about the stories compiled in the book. There are 17 stories altogether and 16 of them have been published 65 times in 10 countries. Incredible, isn’t it?

Malaysia is a multiracial country where the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Punjabis, Kadazans, Ibans and other races live together in harmony and tolerance. Each group has their own customs and traditions and it’s fascinating to learn about them in addition to learning about ourselves.

I’m impressed with how Raymer managed to write so well about the real essence of being a Malaysian. He certainly knows and understands the various races in the country along with their customs and beliefs. Well, he has lived in Penang for over 20 years and also married a local woman. So he had time to get to know the country. Some of the stories are based on his previous experiences here.

My favourite story is The Future Barrister where a young Indian man who looks like Clark Gable gets drunk in a local bar and starts telling shocking things to a new American friend. The ending of that story made my jaw drop literally. Haha!

The story Smooth Stones also had an ironic and yet predictable ending. A Malay woman buys three “magical” stones from a stranger who claimed that the stones had healing powers. Thinking that the stones could heal her dying husband, the woman paid a large sum of money for them, which looked like they were picked up from the nearby river.

Meanwhile, in The Watcher, a grumpy great-grandfather waits for his great-grandchildren to arrive for Chinese New Year. Sitting on an old wooden bench, he recalls the Japanese invasion into the country while watching the neighbourhood children play with firecrackers. He’ll also occasionally shout out warnings to the children.

In Lovers and Strangers, a writer meets a young woman who looks and talks the same as his former lover who committed suicide. I was waiting for something creepy to happen but then the entire story spells out CREEPY!

I enjoyed reading all the stories in the book. I enjoyed reading about typical Malaysians and our habits that we overlook every day. Raymer must have spent a lot of time writing, editing, and re-writing them. I know because it’s not easy to produce a good short story that wouldn’t let the reader get bored.

This book is highly recommended to anyone who is interested in getting to know Malaysians and also Thailand (Transactions in Thai is set there). If you also need great short story samples, then Lovers and Strangers Revisited is certainly one of the best ones.

I won the Superior Scribbler Award!

StephanieD from Misfit Salon presented The Superior Scribbler Award to five bloggers and wow, I’m one of them. Thank you so much, Stephanie! I’m really honoured to be even considered. :)

Some of the rules to be followed:

  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

I’m now gonna pass on this award to the following five bloggers:

  1. KittyCat from Right Reads – A perceptive blogger who writes great reviews of most of my favourite books!
  2. Diane from The Book Resort – I like the insightful quotes that she posts every now and then. Her blog is a cheery one as it’s adorned with cute, sparkly graphics.
  3. Nymeth from Things Mean a Lot – Another blogger whose reviews I really enjoy reading. She reviews books regularly. I’m amazed at how fast she reads them and still have the energy to write wonderful reviews!
  4. The Reading Monk – He reads thought-provoking books which I think I should read too.
  5. nylusmilk from The Literary Pursuit – Her K.I.S.S. style reviews are a joy to read. She also occasionally shares interesting bookish articles found during her Internet surfing.

I would really like to give this award to all the book bloggers out there as you’re doing a wonderful job (reading, blogging and sharing!) in the book blogging community. All the same, keep up the great work, guys!

Boys Like Girls…and vice versa

I thought I had better get in touch with the latest music. The other day, I came across a blogger whose favourite band is Boys Like Girls. Apparently, this band is coming to Malaysia soon (not sure when) and I don’t even know what songs they sing! Nah, it’s not like I’m going to attend their concert. Concerts are usually held in Kuala Lumpur or Genting Highlands. They are rarely held in Penang. :(

So I visited You Tube and searched for this particular band. Ahh, seems like I’ve heard one of their songs, The Great Escape, on radio before. So that’s what they sang. I listened to a few more of their songs on You Tube but found that The Great Escape is their nicest song.

The song ‘Thunder’ which is one of their ballads has great lyrics. Check out a portion of the song:

Your voice was the soundtrack of my summer
Do you know you’re unlike any other?
You’ll always be my thunder, and I said
Your eyes are the brightest of all the colors
I dont wanna ever love another
You’ll always be my thunder
So bring on the rain
And bring on the thunder

Today is a winding road
Tell me where to start and tell me something I dont know, whoa
Today I’m on my own
I can’t move a muscle and I can’t pick up the phone, I don’t know

And now I’m itching for the tall grass
And longing for the breeze
I need to step outside, just to see if I can breathe
I gotta find a way out
Maybe there’s a way out

Some parts are cheesy but I like how they associated weather and environmental elements with feelings and emotions.

Nevertheless, they’re not my favourite band. I’m just trying to keep up with the times. :)

Friday Finds (Sept 25, 2009)

This weekly meme is hosted by Should be Reading.

Click on the pictures to visit the book’s page on Amazon.

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

I don’t remember where I first saw it but it was through one of the book giveaways held by another book blogger. I’m intrigued by the story of Anastasia Romanov and have always enjoyed watching the cartoon version. Embarrassing, I know, but I like Dimitri’s character.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Okay, so this wasn’t a recent find but it’s still in my wishlist! :)