buku : Rosihan Anwar | Sejarah Kecil ‘Petite Histoire’ Indonesia ed. 1
lagu : Sore | Pergi Tanpa Pesan
pencatat penulis sejarah dengan kualitas seperti Rosihan Anwar di ranah kesusastraan Indonesia. Tak mengherankan bila kabar kepergian beliau layaknya tamparan yang membekas pada muka literatur nusantara. Indonesia sekali lagi telah kehilangan putra terbaiknya. Petite Histoire adalah satu karya yang menjadi pegangan untuk mencintai negara ini. Saat membaca buku ini, saya kerap bergumam, “Mengapa bukan Petite Mémoire?.” Luapan cerita nyata yang terjadi di beberapa daerah nusantara tergarap dengan apik, melepaskan diri dari lantunan paparan sejarah yang tidak bernyawa menjadi peranti yang mencatat ingatan ‘masa kecil’. Lalu mengapa petite? Karena beliau menganggap kisah-kisah penting yang membentuk watak daerah tersebut umumnya luput dari rekaman sejarah.
Sejumlah peristiwa langu yang masih terasa asing terkuak dalam tulisannya. Pengalaman masyarakat Pulau Nias dibawah kudeta Nazi Jerman, munculnya bibit-bibit yang membentuk TNI, dan cerita lainnya belum menjadi pemahaman yang lumrah dalam masyarakat. Dalam edisi perdana ini, pembaca dapat menelaah dalamnya karakter dan keistimewaan itu. Keluh dan peluh menghadapi pertikaian selama tiga zaman dirajut menjadi memoir perjalanan yang berliku.
“Pada 1909, Letnan H.J Schmidt mendapat perintah untuk melenyapkan teungku-teungku terakhir Di Tiro yang bertahan di gunung-gunung sekitar Tangse. Baru pada Mei 1910 ia dapat mengetahui tempat persembunyian Di Tiro. Dalam suatu penyergapan sebelas pejuang Aceh tewas, di antaranya seorang cucu Di Tiro, yaitu Saman. Bapaknya, Mayet Di Tiro dan abangnya, Di Buket, sempat lolos tapi kemudian Teungku Di Buket meninggal dunia karena luka-luka. Teungku Mayet Di Tiro ditemukan pada bulan September dan ditembak mati. Pada 1911 makin banyak anggota keluarga Di Tiro yang gugur. Letnan Schmidt dengan pasukan marsose-nya membunuh semua anggota laki-laki keluarga Di Tiro, kecuali dua orang anak yaitu seorang laki-laki berusia enam tahun dan seorang bayi berusia lima bulan.
Sejarah berjalan terus.”
Peliknya persoalan yang dialami dihadirkan secara lugas dengan pembahasaan yang luar biasa lentur menyamarkan seringai kebencian terhadap roda politik yang payah. Karyanya seakan menghantam para (seolah-olah) pemimpin—atau bahkan kepada khalayak umum—dengan satu pertanyaan besar:
Kenalkah kalian dengan sesuatu yang seharusnya kalian wakili?
Ya. Beliau menulis sejarah, bukan mencatatnya. Karena tanpa tulisannya, sejarah tidak akan lengkap—dan malah untuk sebagian, tidak akan ada.
Selamat jalan, Pak Ros.
book : Ernest Hemingway | The Old Man and The Sea
song : Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 23 in A Major, K. 488: Adagio
If you have read the book, you must be asking why I consider this book as horrendously difficult to digest since it has the most effortless language of all the Pulitzer-winning books. Well.. it has sharks in it. I bought the book when I was in in junior high because I acknowledged that this is one of the front-runners of classic literature. Yet due to my phobia of sharks, the reading had to be adjourned for a few years—now, now, I know there’s no picture of sharks in it, but for me words are even more horrific because it gives you the most extreme vision of what you’re reading.
“He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy. He simply woke, looked out the open door at the moon and unrolled his trousers and put them on.”
Salao, people call him though his real name is Santiago, an aged Cuban fisher. Salao means the most luckless out of all luckless. It’s September, the very month when sea is pervaded with fishes yet 85 days of fishing, Santiago manages to catch none. Then come along his helper, a young boy named Manolin. Though compelled by his family to walk away from the unfortunate old man, he’s evermore faithful to Santiago. Burnt out and gnarled, the gray-haired fisher has nothing left to do but to daydream that a stroke of luck would come his way. Just at dawn on the very last day, Santiago sets out to the sea not knowing his prayer is about to be answered, with a ginormous marlin. He struggles with the monstrous fish for two days and nights until ultimately he wins over the fish.. and the relentless jinx. But before all the triumphant moment, came my worst nightmare: the sharks. They came to hijack the marlin and despite Santiago has killed them after, there are still series of hurdles he has to face. Broken knife, losing a spear, almost subject to despair and anguish. Finally, he went home with a 18 feet long scraped marlin skeleton and his head held high, staggeringly leaves everyone open-mouthed.
The charm of the book lies in the clarity of the characters. Santiago is a proud and persistent man: 85 days without a catch, he’d still never allow people to discover his vulnerable side—he doesn’t confess that he’s not able to buy rice. Manolin acts as a consciousness knocking to find humility inside Santiago’s heart. He loves the old fisher and in return Santiago teaches him how to fish. The prose is pervasive and frugal, the portrayals are vividly tangible. More than just narrating, they’re showing us the picture:
“His back was as blue as a swordfish’s and his belly was silver…The shark closed fast astern and when he hit the fish the old man saw his mouth open and his strange eyes and the clicking chop of the teeth as drove forward…”
That very sentence scared the bejeezus out of me.
The book ends as it begins, on the seaside, Santiago is bowed and blood-soaked. And as to Manolin, the youthful solicitous lad, caters to the old man’s troubles and injuries. The Old Man and The Sea is a dubious story of a man’s battle with his own comprehension that age might walk off with many things, but wisdom. A story of man versus beast as well as man versus himself.
“Why do old men wake so early? Is it to have one longer day?”
book : Die Brüder Grimm | Sixty Fairy Tales
song : Javier Navarrete | Lullaby
In case you haven’t noticed, I have included The Brothers Grimm in this blog series. Yes, it’s the notorious #2. I found myself at a loss for words confronting the last numbers of #30hari30buku30lagu because the altitude of writing virtuosity is getting monstrous toward the end. I’m able to utter so much about a book, but a majestic writing speaks for itself and left me tongue-tied. And I can tell the same about Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Some readers (mostly parents) are a bit concerned to pass along Grimm’s stories to their children for its original writings are vaguely clouded with devilry and sadism. But to me, these gifted storytellers are the epiphany of clandestine beauty. Below is the authentic form of their most distinguished works:
The King rejoiced beyond measure at the sight, but still he had not gold enough; and he had the miller’s daughter taken into a still larger room full of straw, and said, “You must spin this, too, in the course of this night; but if you succeed, you shall be my wife.” “Even if she be a miller’s daughter,” thought he, “I could not find a richer wife in the whole world.” When the girl was alone the manikin came again for the third time, and said, “What will you give me if I spin the straw for you this time also?” “I have nothing left that I could give,” answered the girl. “Then promise me, if you should become Queen, your first child.” “Who knows whether that will ever happen?” thought the miller’s daughter; and, not knowing how else to help herself in this strait, she promised the manikin what he wanted, and for that he once more span the straw into gold.
[ Rumpelstilzchen | Rumpelstiltskin ]
The old woman had only pretended to be so kind; she was in reality a wicked witch, who lay in wait for children, and had only built the little house of bread in order to entice them there. When a child fell into her power, she killed it, cooked and ate it, and that was a feast day with her. Witches have red eyes, and cannot see far, but they have a keen scent like the beasts, and are aware when human beings draw near. When Hansel and Grethel came into her neighborhood, she laughed maliciously, and said mockingly, “I have them, they shall not escape me again!” Early in the morning before the children were awake, she was already up, and when she saw both of them sleeping and looking so pretty, with their plump red cheeks, she muttered to herself, “That will be a dainty mouthful!” Then she seized Hansel with her shrivelled hand, carried him into a little stable, and shut him in with a grated door. He might scream as he liked, that was of no use. Then she went to Grethel, shook her till she awoke, and cried, “Get up, lazy thing, fetch some water, and cook something good for thy brother, he is in the stable outside, and is to be made fat. When he is fat, I will eat him.”
[ Hänsel und Gretel | Hansel and Gretel ]
The first said, “Who has been sitting on my chair?”
The second, “Who has been eating off my plate?”
The third, “Who has been taking some of my bread?”
The fourth, “Who has been eating my vegetables?”
The fifth, “Who has been using my fork?”
The sixth, “Who has been cutting with my knife?”
The seventh, “Who has been drinking out of my mug?”
Then the first looked round and saw that there was a little hole on his bed, and he said, “Who has been getting into my bed?” The others came up and each called out, “Somebody has been lying in my bed too.” But the seventh when he looked at his bed saw little Snow-white, who was lying asleep therein. And he called the others, who came running up, and they cried out with astonishment, and brought their seven little candles and let the light fall on little Snow-white. “Oh, heavens! oh, heavens!” cried they, “what a lovely child!” and they were so glad that they did not wake her up, but let her sleep on in the bed. And the seventh dwarf slept with his companions, one hour with each, and so got through the night.
[ Schneewittchen | Little Snow White ]
“Little Red Cap. I’m bringing you some cake and wine. Open the door for me.”
“Just press the latch,” called out the grandmother. “I’m too weak to get up.”
The wolf pressed the latch, and the door opened. He stepped inside, went straight to the grandmother’s bed, and ate her up. Then he took her clothes, put them on, and put her cap on his head. He got into her bed and pulled the curtains shut. Little Red Cap had run after flowers, and did not continue on her way to grandmother’s until she had gathered all that she could carry. When she arrived, she found, to her surprise, that the door was open. She walked into the parlor, and everything looked so strange that she thought, “Oh, my God, why am I so afraid? I usually like it at grandmother’s.” Then she went to the bed and pulled back the curtains. Grandmother was lying there with her cap pulled down over her face and looking very strange.
“Oh, grandmother, what big ears you have!”
“All the better to hear you with.”
“Oh, grandmother, what big eyes you have!”
“All the better to see you with.”
“Oh, grandmother, what big hands you have!”
“All the better to grab you with!”
“Oh, grandmother, what a horribly big mouth you have!”
“All the better to eat you with..”
[ Rotkäppchen | Little Red Cap ]
book : Gabriel García Márquez | One Hundred Years of Solitude
song : Paco de Lucia, Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin | Manhã de Carnaval
This is a very special post for many reasons:
- The writer is greatly loved by my bestfriend, Galih Wismoyo
- The song has too many memories
- The Penguin cover competition which I use as images
- The fact that probably this is one of the best books ever written
Now, where do I start? The beauty of Gabriel García Márquez’s writing in this showpiece might best discussed by lining up its themes. These themes are simply a device I created to understand deeply about the book.
Period | Time
”…time was not passing. It was turning in a circle…“
As in every novel of Márquez, the time is never linear for his characters. The book utters the story of Buendia family and the imaginary town of Macondo. Ursula, one of the member of the family is trapped in a circle of time. Moments become befuddled as she discharges reminiscence from her childhood. Other character finds time as a stuttering path with collisions hence the likelihood that it would shattered and leave behind abiding fragments.
Death | Destiny
”They were so close to each other that they preferred death to separation.”
The plot has a distinct resemblance with Athenian tragedy Oedipus Tyrannus (often called Oedipus Rex). After the first sign of darkness, death becomes a prominent theme implied differently to each character. It becomes a daunting existence, articulated as clear-sighted along the line where the stage of demise grow stronger. Through wet season, funeral arrangements turn into strenuous voyages experienced by a family who for a hundred years put their effort to avoid having a descendant with pig’s tail. Thus, their attempts to prevent eventually grows into a graphic nightmare. They endure the agony of birth, adjusting to the premonition that their children will be dictators and bastards. As Oedipus Rex suggests, the endeavor to dodge a prophecy ends up as predestined fate.
Passion | Love
”There is always something left to love.”
An interesting character in the book that conveys the token of cursed love is Remedios. Her beauty kills. Every single person who strives for her love, dies. The pursuit for her attention provoke acrimony amidst siblings and the sacrifice of a harmless soul. An honest passion is rendered in the book as a joyful occurrence without making it sounds offensive and eerie. Aureliano’s passion for his mistress ignites a fecund and prosper life for the family. Regardless, love is pictured as a physical sensation, like a pebble in his shoes. And for some dreadful parts, drives a man to death.
”Lost in the solitude of his immense power, he began to lose direction.”
The writer didn’t define solitude as isolation, yet it’s a fated concealment or an unstable compulsion. Furthermore, it infects others if someone is in the solitary circle. Márquez illustrates this circle as a place submerged with lies until it obscures the reality. Amaranta, in example. The coldness of her attitude resulted from constant repudiations (read: being a virgin). She persists to bandage her hand as a sign of seclusion unto death. The lone atmosphere is formed by the narration, a genius scheme to fuse misconception, prophecy and physical existence and had them layered with the same facade. Aureliano, on the other hand, is genuinely alone. He’s held captive within the house almost all his life and has no activity besides decrypting the parchments of Melquiades, one of a gypsy band who always visits Macondo every year.
It’s difficult to break down the themes without making it sound contrived, complex, nonsensical and probably unthinkable to read, while actually One Hundred Years of Solitude is nothing but those terms. It took me half a day to finish this post because the degree of intricacy is very high and frail to describe. Yet though I find this book very, very, very hard to study within the first read-through, digesting it was a supreme pleasure. Concocted of family enigma, perplexing conflicts and idiosyncrasies; the story—in point of fact—makes sense. This is a validation of how great Márquez is.
book : Kazuo Ishiguro | Never Let Me Go
song : Massive Attack | Teardrop
ATTENTION: I can’t help but to write major spoilers here and there because that’s the only way to evoke how good the book is. Thus, if you want to enjoy the book fully, do skip this particular post :)
You might’ve known by now that I adore dark and twisted vintage stories. I was pleased that I’m not stuck with old-school, classic writer, that a modern Japanese (although half English) writer made me feel the same way. As much as I hate one-time story, I can’t resist being a big fan of Kazuo Ishiguro’s works since The Remains of The Day, and I was ecstatic when I found out he produced yet another book in 2005. And surprise, surprise, it came out as a movie 5 years later. Me? Not that ecstatic. The reason I always put a song along with a book is that I’ve always been perpetually in love with two things: words and tunes. There’s a story in every music I hear, and vice versa. I always play some songs to accompany me reading, in hope for a vivid and evocative brain images. It’s the sole reason I put Massive Attack instead of Rachel Portman even though she created the soundtrack of the movie. Teardrop helped me build the world of Tommy, Kathy and Ruth 5 years prior.
The hardest thing of being a great writer is that readers will anticipate him/her to attain eminence every single time, and this book felt short in the eyes of numerous readers and critics, being judged after An Artist of The Floating World and The Remains of The Day. Well, I beg to differ. Allured with nauseating agony, Kathy tells a story set in an imaginary part of England where the country nurtures cloned human beings whose vital organs are to be harvested. She utters her love of the time spent with her closest friends, Ruth and Tommy by taking readers back to the boarding school—a fictitious place in the pastoral with a little touch of Charles Dickens—named Hailsham. A group of guardians cloaked as devoted nuns forbid students from leaving the school and had them medically examined every week. Children are remained inside, busy with their art projects which resulted from their creative thinking. Little do they know, these visionary outputs might posses a key to their destiny. Bit by bit, Ishiguro led us to witness that Kathy and her classmates are clones, isolated in an exclusive—not to mention, peculiar—school, indulged, nannied and beguiled to forever feel like a child yet prepared for a brutal, horrific pinned fate.
I kept on thinking how bold Ishiguro was because a tiny weak spot could easily make this book a cheap sci-fi extravaganza. But he keeps us dwelling in daily routines and amazingly it felt real to grasp their story page by page. Making use of the trio’s juvenile rendezvous, their vendettas and finally, how they would endure the repugnant sacrifice thrust upon them. The hair-rising feature of being cut off from the outside world is how familiar it feels. The way Kathy and her friends fill the gap of the alienation by making their own sets of rules and fantasies reminded me of a haiku mirage of children in general. The humanizing effect that Ishiguro made presumably to convey what truly shapes a human. Survival. Courage. Empathy. Stripped-down from the encumbrance that makes us inhumane: compulsion toward technology and culture, past memories and future plans, greed and fear. This book is never a futuristic thriller or a cynical political novel. It’s an existential tale about us, building as much happiness as we can in our life.. before the lights go out.
“Your life must now run the course that’s been set for it.“
book : Kahlil Gibran | The Prophet
song : Alkindi | Vieja Música Arabe
Everybody recognizes Kahlil Gibran as one of the greatest poets along with Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu. And one might consider this book as his magnum opus. Even so, large number of readers detest the book for its intricate wordplay that might come off as empty rhetoric. As for me, this is one of the greatest poems ever written. Yes, the words are rather delicate. Yes, the analogies used are vaguely verging on blatant. Yes, reading some formulas as an adult might sound leaning on lustful or placid. Having said that, then what made me lop off those shallow perspectives and opted to be infatuated with The Prophet?
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
Presumably this is the most evolving passage from all the books I’ve read. I first came across The Prophet when I was in junior high, then I read it again in high school, and again in college, and just finished it for the hundredth time last night. Leafing through its pages throughout each part of my life provides me pristine meaning. It oddly transformed itself into a new reading with a new wisdom to reap. Prior to an inexplicable prophet departure, he felt inclined to offer presents for the people in spite of the fact that he has nothing to own. Thus, he bestows them with wisdom. To avoid any confusion, the book does not tell you about the prophet per se, it opens a door to how a being walk through every single juncture in its life. How is it to be a child, to venture, to grow, to sacrifice, to die, to be in love.
“For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. “
This eloquent series of poetry speak the true sense of knowledge. Immune to dogma, bigotry, authority and metaphysics. It contains as many paradoxical patterns as those obtained in numerous literature’s chef-d’œuvre including Way of Life by Lao-Tzu, Buddha teachings, The Beatitudes of Jesus Christ and Sahih Al-Bukhari.
“Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows - then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.” And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky, - then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.“
I am not what you call religious but I’m much keen on books about religion and spiritual knowledge. Gibran’s works are never about life manual or prepackaged truths. Reading through the book will only engrave an egocentric semblance of utopia in mystical energy. Reading into it will transcend oneself as a life reflection that touches one’s nadir. This is merely a literature merit, The Prophet verbalizes holy excerpt without being holy, a religious book without a religion. Coincidentally, I’m currently using this last quote ever since Revianti Oksinta—my best friend—went home to the hands of God just days ago:
“When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in her may be clearer in her absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.“
All images are Kahlil Gibran’s artworks.
buku : Pramoedya Ananta Toer | Bumi Manusia
lagu : Gamelan Jawa (Gamelan, Saron dan Bonang) | Babar Lajar
Sedikit klarifikasi, tulisan ini dibuat bukan lantaran serentetan protes dari teman-teman yang mencibir bahwa nantinya komitmen #30hari30buku30lagu ini akan dibanjiri bahasa Inggris dan bahwa saya tidak cinta Indonesia karenanya (terima kasih, lho.. kalian baik sekali ya). Saya banyak melahap buku-buku asing awalnya hanya karena determinasi ayah yang menginginkan anaknya fasih berbahasa Inggris. Namun setelah sekian lama, saya—tanpa bermaksud sombong—kesulitan untuk mencerna literatur tanah air. Dan saya malu.
Awalnya, Pram harus melafalkan isi buku kepada seorang teman karena tidak diizinkan membuat tulisan semasa berada dibalik jeruji Buru. Dari tempat itulah lahir Tetralogi Buru dengan Bumi Manusia sebagai buku pertama. Cerita ini digawangi oleh Minke, sosok priyayi Jawa yang duduk di bangku Hollands Burgelukse School. Mencoba merambah perhelatan dunia barat sebagai acuan pengetahuan dan budaya, Minke diselimuti kesenjangan terhadap status pribuminya yang bergumul dengan sekumpulan paras campuran maupun Totok (asli Eropa). Keluwesannya bersuara layaknya sang panutan, Douwes Dekker, berhasil mengambil perhatian kalangan terpelajar dan menampik label pribumi yang kerap menghadangnya untuk maju. Jiwa Eropanya terpukul saat bertemu Nyai Ontosoroh, seorang pribumi ayu dengan kecerdasan yang jauh di atas wanita Eropa. Bersamanya, Minke mendobrak keluar dari kepompong kejawaan yang ujub.
Feodalisme menumbuhkan rasa antipati Pram terhadap langgam Jawa terdahulu. Segregasi strata sosial dianggapnya terlalu pongah terutama melalui sikap jumawa dari kalangan ningrat serta tuntutan rakyat biasa untuk selalu bertekuk lutut di hadapan mereka. Kerakyatan terbelah antara pamong praja (to govern) dan jelata (be governed). Dan pemecahan tersebut mengebat hingga turun-temurun. Meskipun jejaknya masih jelas tersisa, sistem kenegaraan penuh cela ini sempat digerus dengan emansipasi akan kesetaraan dimana tonggak pertama ditegakkan saat Revolusi Perancis, sebuah konsep yang diagungkan Minke. Nyai Ontosoroh juga dilukiskan sebagai pribadi yang menolak langgam tersebut. Baginya hal tersebut adalah pencerminan cerita hidupnya yang mau tidak mau disematkan dengan titel gundik akibat penindasan Belanda yang enggan mengakuinya sebagai ibu sah dari anak-anaknya serta pelecehan dengan menolak menyetarakan dirinya sebagai manusia terpelajar.
Penuturan sosok Minke sarat akan pengalaman RM Tirto Adhi Soerjo, tokoh pendiri Sarekat Priyayi yang bagi Pram merupakan organisasi nasional pemuka di jaman kolonial. Berlatar penjajahan Belanda, buku ini sangat lekat dengan keadaan negara terkini. Tangga ningrat memang sudah luntur, namun kewenangan kaum mayoritas masih disalahgunakan dalam melancarkan kekuatan untuk menghimpit kaum marjinal. Pembelajaran tentang wacana hidup yang humanis saya kenyam berkat buku ini. Sejujurnya tidak banyak penulis nusantara yang dapat berdampak terhadap saya sebagaimana yang Pram lakukan. Pengejawantahan ideologi yang rumit dibahasakan dengan sangat lentur dan sederhana sehingga mampu mengetuk hati segala kalangan pembaca.
“Dan alangkah indah kehidupan tanpa merangkak-rangkak di hadapan orang lain.”
Sebuah pelajaran untuk negara terangkum dalam 500 halaman.
book : Joseph Heller | Catch-22
song : The Rolling Stones | Paint It Black
“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”
My grandfather was a soldier. And all my father did throughout his young age was to mimic his old man, hence the huge love of combat stories. He told me once to watch Catch-22, the movie, not because of the bloody action but more because it showed the audience—to quote him—the mentality of a war. As overambitious as I was, I decided to read the book instead of watching the movie, and this took me quite a time to finish (read: a whole year). And my first thought afterwards: my father was right.
It was toward the end of World War II in a small island called Pianosa. The Army Air Forces sustain a squadron of bombers, soldiers that were never remain on either air, sea or land. The story introduces you to Yossarian, the enervated protagonist trying to escape his unending missions. He then one day makes up his mind to go…. loony—and this is not a figure of speech.
- Why? because the flight surgeon is impelled to ground anyone with mental deficiency.
- Meaning? Yossarian can’t stand to stay any minute longer in that war.
As I stated previously, this book strikes me as deviant and more than a tad inauspicious. The larks by those lampoonographic squadrons were far more unhinged than any war fiction—or any fiction for that matter. Thus, the ending of the story is anything but sedative. This is a new—but depraved—king of comedy. The book speaks merely about bloodshed, it highlights the idiosyncrasy of our way of life and the distorted values from a system it based on. The true atrocity Joseph Heller exhibits is not within the bombing assignments but imbue the whole entangled anatomy of authority. After reading a few reviews about the book, I understood that readers in 1960s might connect with the story even more due to its germane time frame. However, reading it in 2000s gave me a more vast outlook on halfwitted preconception of war.
As the prominent critic, Nelson Algren, once said that Catch-22 is: “..not merely the best American novel to come out of World War II, it is the best American novel to come out of anywhere in years.” Throughout the book, Heller mulled over two topics: horror and humor. Seemingly an odd couple, he manages to cook them into one sumptuous illogic. Yossarian lures me as those—though slightly cordial—characters in Kafka’s writings. A German novelist with a profound relationship with Nazi regime (having his sister killed in its concentration camp), Kafka’s people in his books were full of resentment—in a great way. By that reason, comparing Heller and Kafka is like comparing apples and oranges. Here, Vietnam war is identified as pseudo-immortal massacre. The narration caused a collateral expansion which made the book recognized widely as its precise figurative portrayal. And amid the pages of Catch-22, along came one of my all-time favorite quotes:
“He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.”
PS: I don’t think I’m gonna see the movie since I’m sure it would never do the book justice.. :)
book : Gilbert Hernandez | Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories
song : Gotan Project | El Capitalismo Foráneo
This is the case where you’d love the book, or you just wanna puke reading it. Obviously if I’m not crazy in love with it, Palomar would never get the special #13 in #30hari30buku30lagu because this is my favorite number. The compilation of stories is set in a make-believe Central American seaside village of Palomar. Gilbert Hernandez merges the mien of Archie with the opulent Faulkner’s characters and then positions them as a melodramatic stroke of a sultry soap opera and morph these elements into a stupendous narrative art.
In one of the stories, Hernandez wanders through how generations relate to one another in small community while channeling the spirit of Latin-American mojo as those forged by Gabriel García Márquez. In my opinion this is a form of pan-American saga that traverses multiple peer groups of a family ruled mostly by women. Palomar revolves around two major characters:
- Luba, a spunky sexpot with a chain of unwanted children
- Heraclio, an egghead with a goody-goody smear
In the book, Hernandez covered every aspect of life from mortality to constitutional affairs. Short stories rendering the contemporary world’s impingement on a district garden area. Longer writings colored the book with how the past adulterate the present, how tourists obtrude on privacy in daily basis, far-flung commuters, disease epidemic and how all propagate barbarity and discontentment. The writer sew his personal view on creative impotence and his sympathy to modern-day mayhem into a page-turning epic. Palomar ends with a story set in the town whose details along the way leaning towards a ho-hum, stuffed, and baffled milieu by the use of rapid time jumps. It carries Hernandez’s most puissant illustrations: the mind boggling sketch of a sculptor entombing a guise of the town’s inhabitants in a lake, in order to be unsullied later on as a testament of the perennial Palomar.
Not that I’m saying this is a gory comic or that there’s no surrealism. Au contraire, it has sudden flashes of macabre ferocity that are truly horrific because they happen to characters you’ve watched grow before your eyes. Its sudden flights into the unreal (in la-la-lands and deliriums) are the more compelling for that. I am insistent on putting my money that Palomar is one of—if not, the most—vital comic art ever drawn. To read vigorously or sporadically, Palomar caters to my need of consuming the world’s ugliest fresco. A breed of über pictorial book constructed by the life of Palomar inhabitants outlined with vivid boorishness that is Hernandez’s drawing style, the facial and body dialect marvel. By the time I finished the book, and witnessed characters move away, return, marry, die, mess up, it’s disturbing that I was sure I’ve obtained a whole new set of friends in my head. Once, I even called up a friend and shouted, “Oh my God! Look at what Tonantzín just did!” in the middle of reading it. Inevitably, quite emblematic of how Palomar has become a real-life place to me.
book : F.S. Fitzgerald | Tales of The Jazz Age
song : Scott Joplin | Bethena
As the book Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen has showed you how much I love short stories bundled into one book, I shall bring the same case once more. Surely being in 21st century, some—or most—of you must have watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
- Plus side: Fitzgerald got more exposure to the current generation
- Negative side: ….not as much as Brad Pitt
Traveling to anywhere, this is the ultimate classic I always carry inside my bag. The compact stories allow me to read them infrequently. And in the spirit of getting to know more about Fitzgerald, I will provide snippets of stories in the book other than Mr. Button’s (yes, i demand that you should know more about Fitzgerald’s exquisite gems). So here it goes:
“Where is Mr. Tantrum, little girl?” he asked, not without kindness.
She raised her foot and pointed her big toe toward the woods.
“Thar in the cabing behind those thar pines. Old Tantrum air my old man.”
The man from the settlements thanked her and strode off. He was fairly vibrant with youth and personality. As he walked along he whistled and sang and turned handsprings and flapjacks, breathing in the fresh, cool air of the mountains. The air around the still was like wine. Jemina Tantrum watched him entranced.
No one like him had ever come into her life before.
[ Jemina, The Mountain Girl ]
“Good-night everybody,” called Clark.
There was a pause, and then a soft, happy voice added,
[ The Jelly-Bean ]
They lingered for a moment just below the stoop, watching a moon that seemed full of snow float out of the distance where the lake lay. Summer was gone and now Indian summer. The grass was cold and there was no mist or dew. After he left she would go in and light the gas and close the shutters, and he would go down the path and on to the village. To these two life had come quickly and gone, leaving not bitterness, but pity; not disillusion, but only pain. There was already enough moonlight when they shook hands for each to see the gathered kindness in the other’s eyes.
[ The Lees of Happiness ]
That, John perceived after a time, was the thread running through his sentences. Prometheus Enriched was calling to witness forgotten sacrifices, forgotten rituals, prayers obsolete before the birth of Christ. For a while his discourse took the form of reminding God of this gift or that which Divinity had deigned to accept from men—great churches if he would rescue cities from the plague, gifts of myrrh and gold, of human lives and beautiful women and captive armies, of children and queens, of beasts of the forest and field, sheep and goats, harvests and cities, whole conquered lands that had been offered up in lust or blood for His appeasal, buying a meed’s worth of alleviation from the Divine wrath—and now he, Braddock Washington, Emperor of Diamonds, king and priest of the age of gold, arbiter of splendor and luxury, would offer up a treasure such as princes before him had never dreamed of, offer it up not in suppliance, but in pride.
[ The Diamond as Big as The Ritz ]
Parker and Davis
Sittin’ on a fence
Tryne to make a dollar
Outta fif-teen cents
The Young Man: (eagerly) Are you growing fond of literature?
Julie: If it’s not too ancient or complicated or depressing.. same way with people.
[ Porcelain and Pink ]
Lovely, aren’t they?
book : E.M. Forster | A Passage to India
song : Nitin Shawney | Koyal
“Adventures do occur, but not punctually.”
Although I’m a bunny rabbit by exterior, I always consider myself a daredevil by heart. And the first time I wanted to know about India, I bought this book. Later on I realized that it has nothing to do with having a physical adventure in India—yet it has everything to do with spiritual journey the country has made.
The story takes place mostly in a city along Ganges River called Chandrapore within the colonial period where Britain ruled India. An interesting part at the beginning where Dr. Aziz’s laying his head for a quick rest in a mosque when an old English lady engaged him with a conversation. The old English lady named Mrs. Moore tells him that she’s in India to visit her son, and from her time spent there she discloses her objection of the way English people comport themselves toward the native Indians. Although Dr. Aziz is not the main character of the book, to me he played a major role in determining the spirit of the story. Written in early 1900s, The British Empire dominated India and was pristine for the most part. Their presence challenges personal views on racial prejudice and class segregation. This book put in place the substratum of cognitive culture handed over to India but seen as righteously wrong since the Raj was fathomed as a virtuous homage—a celestial bestowed to govern India. The beauty of this book is that it preliminary appeared as the story of an old lady with her prospective daughter-in-law coming to India but then morphs to provide noteworthy views on political as well as racial matters without losing its ground as a fiction.
“But it struck him that people are not really dead until they are felt to be dead. As long as there is some misunderstanding about them, they possess a sort of immortality.”
The passage that the writer appeals to might refer to the pursuit of verity. It then leads to something more than just India. It roams to every orientation, the sky, the earth, the land and weather. From a few parts of the book, it showed the intense relationship to Walt Whitman’s poem entitled just the same. The ricochet between social matters and spiritual being of India’s environment comes as an iconic analogy of transcendent journey a country must go through. The blend between Western and Eastern comes into sight at parts when the British repulsed to the fact that they had to accept nature as a conundrum. Thus, this is an important stage without which British will never fully secure India. The book repeats in perpetuity the cosmic clash amid self and not-self, the overlord and puny human, trompe l’oeil and fidelity. E.M. Forster draws the coda when stating that East and West might never utterly comprehend where each other is coming from. If each is not able to assimilate other cultures then there will ad infinitum be a cavity between them. His stark conclusion ratify an error-prone virtue that is human who will never be in peace to endure both of his/her sides.
“Outside the arch, always there seemed another arch. And beyond the remotest echo, a silence. There will never be a friendship. No.. not here.”
book : Christopher Buckley | Thank You For Smoking
song : Rufus Wainwright | Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk
As the title suggests, Thank You For Smoking is a right-on-the-money scorn of corporate life. Long story short, this book gave the world a new hero to hate. His name is Nick Naylor. Despite him being the protagonist character of the book, his position made it difficult for everyone not to despise him. First and foremost, as the top lobbyist in Academy of Tobacco Studies he’s condemned to utter loads of—pardon me—bullcrap about cigarettes. What he does is merely to lure people to smoke, yet to slacken off the gap between tobacco companies and the anti-smoking partisans.
As some people might already know, I’m always attracted to obnoxious nogoodniks. And Nick easily caught my attention. It takes true grit to stand on public and declare that there’s no bona fide proof that smoking is related with any disease. Nick has turned a double-dealing cigarette dealer into a congenial individual as well. Christopher Buckley repeatedly draws neo-puritanical standpoint amusingly. He wrote a compelling story for those who’s appalled by so-called ‘genuine’ advertisement revoking the startling image of cigarettes into a politically correct priggish ideology. My favorite scenes are the jocular lunch meetings of Nick and his Mod—a.k.a Merchants of Death—Squad with members as such:
- Nick Naylor, tobacco lobbyist with cunning galore
- Bobby Jay Bliss, ill-equipped but patronizing advocate
- Polly Bailey, booze perjurer
All in favor of soi-distant public obliteration. The three of them would gather and formulate their art of war for public relation and trashing the suits behind neo-puritanism causing them setbacks and woes. Most of their rib-tickling conversations are series of uncanny appraisal filled with hatred from the society.
“Your HATE mail? All of my mails are hate mail..”
There’s something with witty satire that captivates me that I haven’t quite guessed until now. Maybe it’s the way Buckley stipulates USA as a false political asylum, maybe how out-of-nowhere comes along a team of kidnappers barge in Nick’s face and muffles him with nicotine patches until he overdose, or maybe how the story turns against his character with seductive entanglement by the use of female journalist just so in return he can be scrutinized by the FBI for indenture allegation. There’s not much of a connection between me and the book as you can see, but I do recommend this reading for a casual laugh of world-weariness.
book : Paula McLain | The Paris Wife
song : Yann Tiersen & Carla Bruni | Le Parapluie
It has come to my attention that I haven’t done any writing about Ernest Hemingway—If you’re wondering, this book’s also not written by him. The Paris Wife tells the story of Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first companion throughout his Paris years. They were blissfully in love—until he went away with her best friend.
Everybody knows Hemingway’s larger-than-life personality through his gifted writing. Oftentimes his macho bull-fighter exterior eclipse the vulnerable fillings inside that is him, in love. His first object of affection was Hadley, a cracker-barrel but as pretty as a picture. She was 8 years his senior who poured her heart catering Hemingway’s years as a poor faceless writer in Paris. Their yarn of liaison and marriage is turned into a fictive tale by Paula McLain. Instead of writing a biography about Hadley, she wanted to sink deeper. Visualizing Hadley in Paris, what went in her mind as she tromp among the locks of young artists and highbrows there. She was 28 when caught by the eyes of Hemingway, 20. A talented musician that she was, taking care of her sick mother consumed her 20s. When the striking, easy-on-the-eye Hemingway filled her in about his plan on moving to Paris to be a full-time writer, Hadley took that as a proposition, and said yes. I saw Paris in 1920s through her eyes and self-made voice telling it like it was. I imagined myself sipping champagne with Fitzgerald, Stein and Zelda. I put myself in her shoes, witnessed him revamping into a legendary artist. While his youth was gorged with lack of conviction, she was his rock. Yet as his artistic capacity bloomed, she’ll later on be doomed as the starter wife—an undesirable linchpin. Hadley was the voice of warmth as any abhorrent-but-brilliant virtuoso would have.
Along the way, Hadley lost a satchel containing years of Hemingway’s work. And from that moment on, their marriage turned into a series of cataclysm. He was as tight-knit as bread and butter with his writing, while she’s coping with her role as homemaker and mother to “Bumby”. And as a crumbling marriage would function, a love affair steps in. He had an affair with a classy struggling journalist named Pauline Pfeiffer who’s in due course became his second wife. She held her own composure knowing that her feeling was mutual and in the same time being Hadley’s best friend. I venture that her letters to Hemingway was an unveil chain of lover’s secrecy and those addressed to Hadley might be penetrating eerie praise and consolation. One should easily guess how the story then went. The Hadley and Ernest of the book aren’t solely romantic, McLain paints them as individual beings nicknamed each other Tatie. This novel is a colorful story to be intimate with Hemingway and I noticed something familiar while reading this book.
Hadley maybe the doomed starter wife, but it’s indisputable that she has groped Hemingway’s heart until the end of his life. Later married to the 4th wife, one can observe that he spent the last years of his existence formulating his last book titled “A Movable Feast” with pigments of a puzzling lady character—which apparently was Hadley, his first love. And to quote him:
“I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her..”
…just before he took his own life.
book : Emma Donoghue | Room
song : Lykke Li | Time Flies
This is probably the most daunting book-song combination I’m ever going to write in #30hari30buku30lagu. Originally I intended to write about this book later, maybe for #15 or #20. When I started to read it 2 days ago, I was immediately attached to the book and was determined to write about it last night. I always play some songs to accompany me reading books, and at the end of this book I heard Lykke Li’s ominous voice—but then I fell asleep right after I finished it.
I had a strange dream from my encounter with Room. A dream—almost like a visualization of the story, if I may presume—where there’s a shadow of a boy loitering in the bushes, in a room. His mother came and laying him bare under the fluorescent light while murmuring:
“My back against yours, sweetheart. Although we’re looking straight ahead, the gaze from our eyes shall meet halfway around our worlds.”
The story is uttered to you through Jack, a 5 year-old boy who just had his birthday and have been living his short life span with Ma. All he knows is that the world’s never beyond those four walls; that the sphere consists of his Ma, five illustrated books and songs Ma always read and sing over and over and over and over. This tiny space is everything for him, but a penitentiary for Ma. As if it was not tiny enough, they have a nighttime visitor named Old Nick. I don’t even dare to envision living within closure as much, not to mention growing a child and keeping him amused with what this Room can give. Old Nick’s lurking in a Wardrobe when Jack found him. Fawn on Jack, Old Nick is the only companion visible in his eyes. To Jack who knows nothing else than his 3 meters peripheral world, the life is perfect. But for Ma, this captivity is a purgatory—yet she has no choice. Two contrastive worlds, two disparate minds, two distinct ways of looking at life.. collide. Jack finds out the true world outside his Room. The shrill presentiment of unknown dread creeping to his head, the life he’s known before—although huddled by rigid walls—was probably the best state for him.
Ma is an example of a maternal figure who’d do beyond sanity for her child. We learn everything about her through Jack’s voice and having a child to narrate the story was a genius idea. But to some, this book might generate unnerving images in mind’s eye as what happened to me when the story of Elizabeth Fritzi popped into my head. This 300+ pages book that I’ve swallowed within 2 days might give you the exact effect.
From its first paragraph:
“Today I’m 5. I was 4 last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to 5.. abracadabra! Before that I was three, then 2, then 1, then 0.. Was I minus numbers?”
…I was held in captive.
time will fly.. upon my baby’s back.
time will fly.. upon my baby’s back.
book : Hans Christian Andersen | Fairy Tales
song : Jewel | Sweet Dreams For You
As a child growing up in Jakarta, Indonesia; Hans Christian Andersen might not be the first choice of bedtime stories. But in my 20’s, this book has accompanied me through the hardest of nights. Most of us know why Little Mermaid’s longing for human legs, the invisible clothing wore by the Emperor, where the Little Match Girl stayed until the last light of fire, how the Duck becomes the Swan, and so on. On that account, I will not be the raconteuse and expound my relationship with this book. Instead, I’ll quote some parts of my favorite stories. 7 of them.
“Death has been in your house. I saw him rush off with your little child. He moves faster than the wind, and he never brings back what he takes.”
“Just tell me which way he went!” said the mother. “Tell me which way and I’ll find him!”
“I know which way,” said the woman in the black robes. “But before I tell you, you will have to sing for me all the songs you’ve ever sung for your child. I’m fond of them, I’ve heard them before. I am the Night. I saw your tears when you sang them.”
[ The Story of a Mother ]
Here is many a pretty girl who wants to take a little twirl.
She sets off marching to the drum, pretty girl, you dance and hum.
Swaying, stamping, off she goes, ‘till her shoes fall of her toes!
[ The Travelling Companion ]
When they finished the hymn and looked up, they nodded and said, “It was right for you to come, Karen.”
“It was God’s mercy,” she said.
The organ soared, and the children’s voices in the choir sounded gentle and lovely. The bright, warm sunshine steamed through the window, reaching the church pew where Karen sat. Her heart was so filled with sunlight, with peace and joy, that it burst. Her soul flew on the sunlight to God.. and no one asked about the red shoes.
[ The Red Shoes ]
“All of them so handsome except for one; that one certainly didn’t turn out well. I wish she could hatch that one over again.”
“That’s not possible, Your Grace,” said the mother. “He may not be handsome, but he has a genuinely good nature, and he swims as beautifully as any of the others; yes, I’d venture to say even a little better. I think he’ll be handsome when he grows up, or with time he might get a little smaller. He was too long in the egg, and that’s why he isn’t the right shape.” Then she plucked at the back of his neck and smoothed out his feathers.
[ The Ugly Duckling ]
“…Then in the evening I will sit on the branch by your window and sing for you, to make you both joyous and pensive. I will sing about those who are happy and those who suffer. I will sing about the evil and the good that is kept hidden from you. The little songbird flies far and wide, to the poor fisherman, to the farmer’s rooftop, to everyone who is far from you and your court. I love your heart more than your crown, and yet the crown has a scent of something sacred about it. I will come, I will sing for you..”
[ The Nightingale ]
Quickly she struck all the other matches in the bundle. She wanted so much to hold on to her grandmother, and the matches burned with such a radiance that it was brighter than the light of day, Grandmother had never looked so beautiful.. or so grand. She lifted the little girl into her arms, and they flew in radiance and joy, so high.. so high. And there was no cold, no hunger, no fear. They were with God.
[ The Little Match Girl ]
The Top didn’t say a word. He was thinking about his old sweetheart. And the more he listened, the more he felt sure that this Ball was his sweetheart. Then the maid came to empty the trash. “Hey, here’s the golden Top!” she said. And the Top was brought back to the parlor with great ceremony, but nothing was heard of the Ball. And the Top never said another word about his old love, which fades when your sweetheart has lain in the eaves for five years, seeping water. Why, you wouldn’t even recognize her if you met her in the trash bin.
[ The Sweethearts ]
Wrote this at 1:54AM and…… *yawn*