Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Summer is what Perth does best

Summer in Perth is always hot with blue skies and the locals have become apt at filling these summer months with fun activities that bring out the best in the city.

Compared to the rest of the world, Perth’s weather ranges from hot in the summer to mild in the winter although it does get a little wet.

But for some reason, most of the fun activities such as the arts festival (including the writers’ festival) are condensed into those hot summer months.

This leaves the months in between to be similar to the desert that separates Perth with Melbourne.

Of course, this might be a slight exaggeration because stuff does happen but not at the same level as during the summer nor is there same buzz during the winter.

In some cases, it is to take advantage of when perfect weather is almost guaranteed but there is a noticeable dip in the vibe when the city cools off. But other than that, there seems no reason to explain the density of programming during the summer months.

It is as if the 20-degree winter temperature gets too much for the population causing them to hibernate in their suburban dwellings with Master Chef being the best and only source of entertainment.

But anyway, the 2015/2016 was hot and fun as expected. There were visits to the Hawkers’ Markets, Fringe Festivals, Sculptures by the Sea and outdoor movies. As always, the Perth International Arts’ Festival was the highlight. Marlon Williams playing at the Chevron Gardens was especially cool.

So as the weather cools down somewhat, it becomes time to hibernate through a mild Perth winter. It won't be long until the weather warms up again and things start to happen again but until then, so long!

Monday, March 7, 2016

We live for books

The world lost two amazing authors recently – Umberto Eco and Harper Lee. Both made an amazing contribution to the literary life of the plant and they will never be forgotten. Although I haven't read any Umberto Eco since my university journey into the world of semiotics, I did read Harper Lee's final offering to the world as well as several more books and below are some of them. 

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story
by Hyeonseo Lee

This is an autobiographical story of the author’s escape from North Korea.

This is an amazing book that I couldn’t put down and shows that real life is sometimes cooler than fiction. You can read this book and can’t help but feel impressed with the drive of Hyeonseo Lee. 

Knowing that she was going to speak at this year's Perth Writers' Festival, I gave the book to my parents to read and they also found it hard to put the book down. Since they only had one copy they had to read the book in tandem in order to finish it in time.  

STARS *****

Casual Vacancy
by J.K Rowlings

With the dark story line and characters who have few redeeming qualities this book reminded me of Jonathan Franzen's novels.

The story is depressing and often unpleasant but somehow I couldn't stop reading, I just wanted to know what happened next.

The characters are deeply flawed but somehow understandable.


Go set a Watchman
By Harper Lee

The hype around Go, Set A Watchman has been filled with controversy and questions that we may never get the answers to but despite all this, I loved this novel and found it so challenging on so many levels.

Apart from the controversy surrounding Atticus Finch’s shift in political and racial views, it touches on how children perceive their parents as well as the length individuals go feel like they belong the community. I found it interesting how Hank seemed to sacrifice is personal beliefs and individuality to feel accepted by Maycomb and to be of service to that community.

This may sound like a cliché but it is also a coming-of-age story how Jean Louise returns to the town of her childhood after time in the big smoke to find that it has changed as well as that her father was not the super star she thought he was. But maybe she was the one that had changed and she hadn’t realized it.

I loved how her Uncle Jack was there to help her work through it.

STARS ****

China Rich Girlfriend 
by Kevin Kwan

This book is a super superficial play between private old money and 'look-at-me' new money.

If nothing else shows the massive changes in the social and economic environment of the region. But don't take it too seriously!

It is great holiday reading if you want something that reads like an Asian version of Gossip Girl.


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