Less than a day after my last post on Xiao Han’s book launch yesterday, I’ve devoured her first collection of essays in a 2011 book titled Teardrops Are Capsules.
Those who did not attend her talk or have not come across her articles in Lianhe Wanbao may not deign to pick up this book unless they are attracted by the big names in the Mandopop and Chinese entertainment world – Jonathan Lee, Tanya Chua, Stephanie Sun, Joi Chua, Fish Leong, Valen Hsu, Jaycee Chan, Soler, Wu Jia Hui, Kuo Jun Hong, Royston Tan, Eric Ng, Gary Cao and many more.
The six sections (each containing 20 to 31 essays) of the book have chemical symbols (all related to Na and Cl) as headings; for eg, Na: The Salty Taste of Childhood, Na: Life’s Difficulties and Acceptance, Cl: Sanitised Swimming Pool, Cl: Cat Lady, Na+Cl-: Liquid, and Na+Cl-: Tears.
With her science background, this is not surprising but it is a refreshing change from most other compilations of literary works. There are many interesting snippets, some of which she mentioned in her talk yesterday: like why she chose to specialise in Biology (because of her JC1 teacher), her PhD in virology and her work as a research scientist, how/why she decided to leave the world of science after 20 years to be a lyricist, her humorous interpretation of some words such as miss and diet (‘die’ + a cross sign), four-letter words such as sale, love, maid, work and baby, and her take on topics like lovelife and love life, heart beats and love hurts, and soulmate.
Other interesting topics include colour blindness in an essay titled “Red Is Danger” on why colour blind people are not allowed to drive but how it could mean they are psychologically different from “normal” people. It is also here that I found out that Mark Twain’s colour deficiency could be the driving force behind his Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
I also like her essay on Teleporty, in which she mentions how music – with sounds and other elements – has a special quality to bring the listener to a different era, world or culture just in the lyrics or arrangement including the accordion / classical Chinese lanuage (wen yan wen)/ ethnic instruments such as the er-hu.
Another interesting essay is where she makes comparison between memories and hair: they do not hurt, but are extensions of something, and no matter how much is cut, they will grow and over time, they will become very long.
There is a 30-page bonus section containing lyrics she penned for songs by Jim Li, Tanya Chua, A-mei, Sun Ho, Jaycee Chan, Serene Kong, Stephanie Sun, Fish Leong, Mi Lu Bin, Valen Hsu, Gary Cao, Mindy Ong, Danny Yeo, Nico Chua, Ah Ken and others. These are interspersed throughout the book; as are her many photographs and illustrations (drawn by her) .
I wish I can just gobble up her other two books…