Watching you walk away,
humming your favourite song,
I feel a swell in my heart:
the air feels different now.
There’s a sense of relief
with every step you take;
My heart has been still too long
like I’d wasted my life.
I’ve been given a chance
to face it all bravely;
I’ll look back with pride one day
that I had taken charge.
Singaporean playwright Jean Tay’s Plunge is the first play in this collection of Southeasts Asian Plays. This is recommended reading at the FUNdaMentals book club, to follow up on the other plays she’d written, in particular Boom which was discussed.
This play was written several years before its theme was developed and expanded in Boom. (A review was posted in this blog, dated 25 Mar 2017.) It shines satirical light on the Asian Economic Crisis, a topic close to Tay’s heart as she was then working as an economist. It reveals Singapore’s sophistication on the global market.
I did not enjoy Plunge as much as Boom because I’m not into Economics and Currencies.
Like a kite in the wind,
Your words touched my heart;
Like a kite without string,
I became lost.
Your love is behind the clouds
like those in the sky;
There’s no beginning
and no end.
Like a sea that’s calm and blue,
You bring little love;
Like the fallen leaves,
love gets buried.
When I read a Philip Roth novel some years ago, I thought that would be my last encounter with the author. Until I stumbled upon this 2015 movie, not realising at first that it is based on another of his novels. Just as well; because I would not have enjoyed reading the book. The DVD cover simply states that it is an “extraordinary and timeless tale of lost love and innocence”.
The main characters are Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman) and Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon). The brilliant Jewish, serious, intense, good-looking and hardworking young man arrives at a small, conservative college in Ohio (from New Jersey where his parents own and run a butcher shop) and becomes infatuated with a beautiful classmate who is mature and vastly more experienced (reminding me of Sylvia Plath with her complexity, strength and vulnerability); and their mutual attraction sparks a torrid encounter with consequences involving the different cultures, religious life and social life.
I enjoyed the music by Jay Wadley more than the story, especially the inclusion of two of my favourite pieces: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4 in F minor Op 36 and Liszt’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No 1 in E flat major.
The FUNdaMentals book club will be discussing the short story The Shadow of Death by James Runcie over two session next month. I’ve just read it and am surprised at how much I enjoyed it despite the miniscule font size.
32-year-old Canon Sidney Chambers (the Vicar of Granchester) has never intended to be a detective but stumbles across a baffling case after a funeral when a woman voices her suspicion that the recent death of a Cambridge solicitor Stephen Staunton is not suicide, as has been widely reported, but murder. This woman is Pamela Morton, mistress of Staunton.
Canon Chambers is used to people confessing their sins but an accusation of murder is different. Why would anyone want to kill Staunton? What is Chambers supposed to do? As a priest, everything is his business; it is not his first case of adultery, never mind murder. He brings this to the attention of his friend Inspector Geordie Keating, who is not amused.
The other characters in the story are Staunton’s widow, Hildegard and his secretary Annabel Morrison. I guessed the murderer quite early on, but I appreciate the way Runcie wove in the details and suspense.
Two things that I particulary like are the mention of two of the three great ‘B’ German composers, J S Bach and J Brahms (the other is L van Beethoven). These tie in nicely with the plot as well as Pamela who is of German descent, as Bach is also from Leipzig (where she came from) and his reknown The Well-Tempered Clavier (considered the “Bible” of music) is where she turns to for consolation on her Bechstein (one of the more presigious German brands at that time) upright piano; in particular the Fugue in B Minor (the final piece in the first book of WTC) because it is stark, angular, dramatic and mysterious as it uses all twelve notes of a chromatic scale as it is built to a conculsion that is as natural as it is inevitable. Brahms’ German Requiem is a popular funeral march, a very moving journey from pain to comfort.
The other thing I like is Runcie’s use of metaphor, especially the one in which tupperware is used to show how life is comparmentalised like things that are kept fresh in these little neat air-tight containers.
One quote I like very much is: We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.