Friday, 4 July 2014

On Books and the Cathay Appeal.

Some months ago I took a copy of my novel into Ashbourne library at their request. It’s disappeared, apparently, and it isn’t out on loan so it seems it’s been stolen. I’m taking that as a compliment.

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And on the subject of books, I had a present from Ms Wong in the post this morning – a copy of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Other Stories. You should have seen how elegantly it was wrapped. I’d say that if there’s one word which best sums up Ms Wong it would be ‘immaculate.’ Everything she does – from the way she wraps parcels to the way she wears her hair to the way she dresses – says ‘effortlessly immaculate.’ Maybe it’s because she’s Chinese. If you look at the art, architecture and artefacts in traditional Chinese culture, it does have a knack of knowing exactly where to put things. And yet it’s graceful, demure, unforced and unpretentious. That’s why I like it.

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And while I’m on the subject of things Chinese, I might just add the following (albeit via a circuitous route.)

The house fly that's invaded my office has finally discovered that the gum on an old envelope flap tastes good. He’s also started acceding to my request to go away if I point a finger and speak to him in no uncertain terms. (I suspect it has more to do with willpower than the expletives I use.)

Good. Maybe now I can concentrate on the beautiful Yu Hongmai playing the erhu rather beautifully (most Chinese instruments have broadly similar counterparts in the west, but nothing of ours quite matches the earthy mellowness of the erhu, the instrument which most defines Chinese music.) Even she, however, for all her willowy wan-ness, pales alongside Ji Wei on the guzheng. Such elegance, such grace, such compelling inscrutability. Why on earth the western world continues to laud the painted, under-dressed garbage which passes for pop culture celebrity over here when there are Ji Wei’s to look at escapes me. You can watch them both here if you want to, although I doubt anybody ever does.

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