Updated or Edited September TBR

So I changed up my September to be read. I’m always changing my mind but since I’m going to college next week, I will most likely be walking around with a kindle and a 3DS, which has nothing to do with books.

1. Finishing Off: Reread: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Pages: 467
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy/Surrealism, Japanese Literature
Format: Paperback

I have about 77 pages left, and I enjoy it even more than the first time I read it. I already wrote a review and a silly theory a day or two ago.

2. The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee

Pages: 469
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
Format: Hardcover

I found this one at the same table of discount books in the supermarket, which was where I found The Burning by Jane Casey. Oddly enough, I was just reading about this author’s stuff on Goodreads, and by pure coincidence this book was on the table on top of all of the other books, like it was destined to be mine. It was only a 1.99$ so I had no choice but to take it. I think this book was calling for me. Now it has a comfortable home. 

3. Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo

Pages: 172 or 182
Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age, Chinese Literature
Format: Hardcover

I talked about this novel in my book haul post. BookCloseouts is very slow at delivering stuff. I know I sound selfish and impatient, but I would never order a book for school or research from this website regardless of those wonderful, golden, cheap prices. 

4. Slowly going through: Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe

Pages: 938 Kindle pages
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Coming of Age, Young Adult
Format: E-book

I am only 9% through this book. If it was in physical form I would’ve read it a little faster, it’s massive and very easy to read since it’s for kids and young adults. However, I’m enjoying it. The beginning is a little slow though.

If I have a enough time to read these:

5. The Savage Detective by Roberto Bolañ

Pages: 648
Genre: Mystery, Spanish Literature, Contemporary
Format Paperback

I’ve already talked about this one. It’s part of the Bookcloseouts order.

6. The Burning by Jane Casey

Pages: 351
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Contemporary, British Literature, Thriller
Format: Hardcover

I’ve already talked about this one too. It was the discount book.

My Silly Kafka on the Shore Theory

1. Kafka Tamura might be a reincarnation of Mrs. Saeki’s boyfriend. The Crow Boy might just be Kafka’s inner dark, conscious.  Kafka’s father left a curse on him, the Oedipal curse, for those who don’t know, then curse is pretty much this: a son is born, he kills his father, and marries his mother and there’s nothing the son can do about it. This Crow Boy watches over Kafka as the Oedipal curse becomes true. I read a Greek tragedy during my Sophomore year of high school, called Antigone, who is the daughter of Oedipus, I was told the whole story about Oedipus before reading Antigone. So this whole Oedipal curse was nothing new to me, so I wasn’t surprised to find that Kafka falls in love with Mrs. Saeki, who is speculated to be his mother. So Mr. Tamura, cursed his son, since Mrs. Saeki left him. I believe that Kafka is a reincarnated version of Mrs. Saeki’s deceased lover, because of his attraction to her. However, I think this theory might be pretty silly.

2. Maybe Kafka is just one unlucky boy and his father is some sort reincarnation of a Greek God who bestowed the curse upon Kafka as revenge for Mrs. Saeki leaving him. The Crow Boy, Kafka’s inner dark self, might be Kafka’s shadow version of him that posses Kafka at some point in the beginning of the novel and kills his father. Notice how it happened after leaving his home. 

3. Nakata lost his shadow due to the entrance stone being open. The Crow Boy came from the world where the entrance stone is apparently the opening to. That forest that his class probably went to was probably near that entrance causing Nakata to lose his shadow, which is a part of him. 

4. The forest that Kafka explores maybe the entrance stone world. There might be a time warp in that forest too… Like the Bermuda Triangle.

5. Oshima may not have been affected by anything, but maybe he was flawed somehow by some sort of curse coming from the entrance world.

6. This entrance stone cursed specific people.

7. This theory might be silly and boring.

8. Johnnie Walker and Colonel Sanders are “concepts” and they probably come from the entrance stone world. Johnnie Walker wants to take over the real world and Nakata must’ve prevented it somewhat or maybe Johnnie Walker is Kafka’s father’s alternate self, maybe Mr. Tamura might be a “concept”. Colonel Sanders probably wants to prevent anyone from being cursed by this entrance stone which is why he helped Hoshino find it. The flute Johnnie Walker made was to be used to take over the world.

Book Review: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Pages: 467
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy/Surrealism, Japanese Literature
Format: Paperback

Here is the oh-so-strange Kafka on the Shore. This is also my favorite Murakami book so far other than Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World and Norwegian Wood. I picked up Kafka on the Shore because it s probably the only Murakami novel that has a young teen narrator. The other protagonists are either in their 30s or middle aged, or college students. What I love about Kafka on the Shore was not only the surrealism but also the strange fantasy like theme mixed in with a small dose of Greek mythology, which is the Oedipus Complex. This novel is actually considered a “Modern Greek Tragedy”. The novel felt real but at the same time it felt like a dream, which is pretty much most of Murakami’s novels, however, Kafka on the Shore seems to stick to me even more. The main reason was because it left me with so many questions, and after reading it, you feel like reading it again, and this whole weird theory or riddle develops in your brain. 

The characters in this novel are loveable and quirky. Kafka is a shy boy with a tough appearance that makes him look older than his real age. He is very sensitive, and tries his best not to let other people read him through the emotions on his face. Since he is 15, he often feels confused about life and understanding adults and his surroundings. Hoshino is a tough, smartass, but really dumb 20-something year old, he is my favorite character other than Oshima. He is very sarcastic and always puts a smile on my face with his remarks, but he is also very gullible and somewhat ignorant. Oshima is the mysterious, androgynous librarian who loves literature and earl grey tea, he always seems to know what he’s talking about, he’s freaking intelligent as hell, and always seems to spew out these beautiful metaphors to Kafka as if this 15 year, who is pretty wise beyond his years, would understand them. He becomes a close friend to Kafka despite his age.  Nakata is the strange, friendly old man who reminds Hoshino of his grandfather. He is part of the chaos of this novel. Mrs. Saeki is another mysterious character, she is a woman who is broken by her tragic past and is slowly dying inside, she seems to be trapped in her past. The characters are so well written that the slow and boring parts of the book are always lighten with these loveable characters. 

The writing style in this novel is pretty similar to all of the other novels Murakami has written. The only thing different is that Kafka’s point of view is written in first person narrative, but occasionally the Crow Boy will take over as narrator and speak out the inner thoughts of Kafka and talk inside of Kafka’s head, as if he was some sort of split personality trapped in the main character’s mind, as if the 15 year was hearing voices in his head, this voice never encourages good intentions or make bad situations better. Nakata and Hoshino’s point of view is written in third person view, Murakami seems to write best in first person. If you are a reader who is easily confused when the point of view changes, I don’t recommend reading this novel. However, I do enjoy the writing style in this book like Murakami’s other novels, it’s plain and simple, but it always has this dreamy, surreal, and poetic touch that keeps you reading. 

After this review I will make my own little theory, it won’t be very original because hundreds of people, especially in Japan, have already made their own theory and discussed it online. So don’t expect anything shocking or serious. I had fun reading this novel because it’s like some sort of strange, fantastical journey, an avant-garde movie that we all direct in our brains.

                                                        Rating: 10/10

I’m Gonna Live Anyhow Chapter 1 No Longer Human

Chapter 1
No Longer Human
           I sat by myself in the corner of the train car, the seats were only three colors, the nice citrus orange, the dull grey, and the bright yellow, it represents society quite well, handsome man, beautiful woman, and the ugly outcast. I was sitting on the grey seat near the door leading to the next train car, the grey one was the ugly outcast, and that’s what I am. In New York, everyone walked into the train and sat down, took out their headphones, took out a book, or struggled to finish their homework, but today, I sat alone. It was 3:00 AM and I had just left my mother’s house after celebrating birthday to go home to my apartment, she was really touched by my bright, pink, spiky haired, head popping up in front of her window waving ‘Hi’. When I first left home and lived on my own, all I thought about was my mother sitting at the kitchen table, alone with the radio playing and having her morning tea with a sad frown upon her face, the only sound that would accompany her would be the radio spewing Top 40 music and the humming of the refrigerator.  When I visited her, my worries melted away, she was doing fine and a friend of hers visited every weekend. My mother was glad to have a son who loved art and counting numbers, she also loved my sister, whom she wished was still alive, and her husband, whom she wished was still sitting in the living room watching political debates.

          Being alone on the train was a strange feeling of loneliness for me, it wasn’t my fault that I was alone but it wasn’t anybody else’s fault that the train was empty. I took out my headphones, plugged them in my ears, and turned on my Itouch, I preferred a simple mp3 player or a CD player but I received an Itouch as a gift and the CD player I had, broke, so I ended up using an Itouch anyway. I selected my favorite album to listen to: Living Room Songs by Ólafur Arnalds, a wonderfully melancholic and delightful neo-classical album that I usually listened to when outside noise disrupted my reading. I wasn’t an avid reader during my high school days, but ever since reading No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai during my college days, a classic Japanese novel that’s highly praised in Japan, I couldn’t stop. I found it during my research on Japanese art and found the novel in a section of the library where it didn’t belong. I was attracted to the pink color and the black silhouette that was used as the artwork for the book cover. When the music started, I opened the book and started reading
The book was extremely depressing and the main character was just filled with gloom and doom, and misunderstood, and unfortunately, I could relate to him. I always felt misunderstood and isolated , maybe it was my flamboyant hair colors, but I wasn’t good at expressing myself, so my hair colors were just a portrayal of what I felt at the moment when I desired a hair color change. Some people said that because I was Chinese, my emotions were never present, which left me confounded and insecure at the same time, it sounded like a racist stereotype to me. Regardless of ethnicity, people express emotions in a variety of ways. I’m pretty sure a smile would stretch across my face when I was happy, but people told me that they never knew I was sad or angry or interested, they said my face was blank most of the time. What most people don’t understand was that, anger was not something I would want to unleash, so I bottled it up, anger always made me black out and I would wake up with a disaster surrounding me. When sadness overcame me, I became a madman filled with tears and spilled emotions everywhere, which was why I stretched that smile across my face whenever I was at least happy. So I always felt less than an human being because I couldn’t express my emotions, the only channels of expression was painting, which I had stopped doing for some reason. My hair colors expressed an emotional phase I had gone through, red hair was’ anger at the world’, pink hair was ‘somewhat content’, and my natural hair color was’ perfectly content’, which unfortunately had not happened in a while.
            After about a chapter or so, the train had finally reached my stop and I got off, the train station was oddly quiet, the smell of rotten eggs lingered in the air, the sound of the train screeching as it stopped pierced my ears, and there was a hobo with raggedy, patchy clothing, sleeping and snoring up a storm on the stone floor. My overcoat swayed in the wind that blew out from the staircase leading up to ground level. It was quite a windy night, it was usually cool, but I never felt such cold breezes since last summer. My mother lived in a more suburban area, it was near the water so it was lot cooler than where I lived, the house my mother lived in was not my childhood home. My childhood home was in Brooklyn, the apartment I lived in was on a completely different street, avenue, and neighborhood but it was still in Prospect Park. She wanted to get away from all the painful memories of the past, so she moved into a small house in Long Island near a beach.
My overcoat and my spiky pink hair attracted a suspicious glance from a police officer as I walked up the stairs, his stare made me uncomfortable so I told him “goodnight.” He was probably wondering why I was wearing an overcoat in the middle of summer, it was a gift from my mom to wear in the winter, but I was so excited about it that I decided to wear it to her house. Some people probably thought I was a Triad or some wannabe Korean pop star, but no, I was an oval faced, pink haired, pale, possibly emotionally unstable, Dr.Martens boots wearing, skinny, tall, Chinese guy who seemed to be really good at labeling his own self despite finding life more confusing than humanity itself.  I walked to my apartment and listened to the sound of my footsteps echoing in the dark night, women gave me suspicious side glances, men gave me cold looks, some women gave me smiles despite the fact that I didn’t know them, and a dog barked at me. When I reached home, I buzzed for the door to open, walked in, boarded the elevator that smelt like cigarette smoke and sweat, and keyed the door.

            In the shower I thought about my mother, my dead sister, my dead father, and my friend, Andrei Romanov, who disappeared during the winter and never came back even after the college graduation ceremony, who was the first person I had romantic feelings for despite him being a male. What had happened during my last few months of my college days seemed to be erased from my mind by pure magic. I can remember Andrei’s soft, dirty blond, curly hair, his long eyelashes, and the black military jacket that he loved dearly. However those college memories came in snippets in my dreams like the missing pieces of a puzzle that had not been solved due to them being lost. I could remember meeting Andrei, how we became friends, and how I developed feelings for him. Why did he disappear? Was he murdered? Why would anyone murder Andrei? Did something happen during the winter that caused me to lose my memory? Why does my brain produce migraines whenever I tried to grab those memories? My head would ache so bad, like a hatchet splitting my skull in half. My psychologist told me it would come back, but it will be so painful, which was probably why they were apparently repressed or erased. I lay in bed in my black shorts and black tank top, my usual sleepwear, and stared at the ceiling and hoped my mother locked up her house and slept safely.  I hoped that my headache would go away after my thought session in the shower. I wanted to peel my head open and suck out all the pain, the unhappiness, and depression with a plastic straw, like drinking Pepsi from a tall glass. Then I would fill it with delicious happiness by stuffing it with my favorite foods like chocolate cake, fried chicken wings, and maybe some spicy ramen. I wanted to finally find who I am and call myself Xiang Yu Chao without feeling like I was talking to a stranger instead of me. 

The Manuscript

Will it be okay for me to post a chapter of my manuscript? I doubt anyone is reading this blog but I write on it anyway. This blog is fairly new, should I have a creative commons license on my blog? I don’t know at all. So anyway, I want to post the first chapter of my manuscript here. If anyone reads it, please leave some honest criticism, I would really enjoy that. I don’t really have a name for it yet, but I will write a summary here first, then I will look over the chapter and check for any grammar mistakes and then I will post it tomorrow. The synopsis kind of sucks, but that’s how I’m going to write it for now. I’m not done with this novel or manuscripts to obviously so I’m not going to start querying or anything. I notice that my writing and grammar are terrible when I write on this blog.

                          I’m Going to Live Anyhow
            (The Original or Previous title was Romanov)

Genre: Contemporary, Surrealism or Fantasy? 
Pages: So far I have 164 pages written

Xiang Yu Chao has suffered many tragedies in his life. His older sister died in a car crash, his boyfriend, Andrei Romanov, and a group of his friends  disappeared during college on Valentines Day, his father passed away from cancer shortly after graduating. He is normally sensitive and shy, and is unable to express his emotions in a stable way.  When provoked or under tons of pressure, he will fly into a fit of rage. Before moving out of his home, Xiang Yu was haunted by his past, he heard pleads for help, malicious threats from an unknown male, and saw visions that contained corpses of young adults. To escape, he ends up living in an apartment and teaches Algebra in a highschool, he has no friends and spends the whole summer feeling lonely. During the summer, Xiang Yu, also known by his nickname Chao (that happens to be his surname), writes journal entries on his laptop as a way of recording and remembering his past after having  a series of dreams where Andrei visits him. He tries to pry open the memory banks that refuse to reveal his traumatic Senior year of college. 

Book Review: Me, Earl,and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Pages: 295
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Comedy, Tragedy
Format: Paperback

The first thing that attracted me to this novel was the beautiful artwork on the cover. It’s just so colorful and real, there’s real kids on it, no fairies or tigers or hot models. I never really knew about the book but it’s pretty self explanatory thanks to the title, the narrator, a friend named Earl and a girl who’s going to die. 

At the first few pages, I already knew that Greg Gaines was going to be the silly narrator who just puts a smile upon everyone’s face. Greg Gaines is the main reason why I enjoyed this novel, he is by society’s standards a nerd, or a loser. He tries to be friends with everyone, even though most likely, those people don’t like him or care for him. He barely has friends, only Earl, who is the only person he shares the same interest. He seems to have a hard time understanding others and understanding and coping with his own feelings. He can be a character that some people can relate to. He is a perfect example of an outcast, and he makes his isolation even worse with his sensitivity, fear of other people’s judgements, and his way of portraying his emotions,he feels has to be dishonest even though the truth would be better. Greg is a character that needs to be hugged, he is misunderstood a lot too. Rachel is also misunderstood, Greg found her annoying and boring, then he starts to realize that Rachel is indeed a nice, honest, and patient person, who really deserves a good friend, which is Greg Gaines who listened to her and at the time of her death, she listened to him. He tends to come off selfish and shallow, but in reality, he’s just a sensitive and misunderstood guy. 

Earl is somewhat an outcast too, he lives in a dysfunctional household and the only way he deals with his destructive life is anger, so even though he tends to be funny, including Greg, he can come off as somewhat of an unlikable character due to his anger and way of handling others. However, he redeems himself at the end by showing that he is a strong, independent, honest, sincere, and blunt. Greg is the guy who hides behind the curtains, and Earl is a rose, it looks nice and everything, but those thorns will hurt you if handle it wrong. I probably used the worst analogy to describe Earl. 

This novel is very character driven, sure there is a plot, but without the characters unique personalities and the humor, it would just be some bland piece of paper, and it will only last 50 pages or less. It’s an enjoyable light read, if you’re looking for something fun to read, I suggest this one. it’s one of the books that contains tragedy without taking it too serious. There’s always a little light somewhere. 


Book Haul?

So one day I went to Shopright with my mom, she picked up a few things and then we turned a corner and found a table covered in used books that were being sold for a 1.99$ or 2.99$, I can’t remember exactly. So I had some fun going through the piles, unfortunately they were mostly books I wasn’t familiar with, they were mostly Adult romances, thrillers I’ve never heard of, and mystery who-dun-its. It consisted of mostly adult fiction that I had never heard of. So here is my first book haul on this blog. Don’t expect these posts to be frequent because I don’t have a job or a huge giant bookshelf. So this week I got one book and ordered 3 books that will probably arrive sometime next week or the week after that one. 

1. The Burning by Jane Casey (Maeve Kerrigan #1)

Pages: 354
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, British Literature
Format: Hardcover

A used book I bought in Shopright, a supermarket, for those who don’t have one where you live, it was a bargain, it interested me. The pile was filled with adult fiction novels I’ve never heard of.

2. 2666 by Roberto Bolaño 

Pages: 898
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, Spanish Literature
Format: Paperback

This novel has recently gained some popularity here in the U.S. I saw it in a picture because the cover looked pretty and ever since I’ve been reading about it and wanting it so bad. Everything from the title and the book cover just sounds so intriguing and awesome.

3. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño 

Genre: Mystery, Apparently contains Poetry, Spanish Literature
Format: Paperback

I wanted it for the same reason stated above, I also have a fascination with detectives like Mr. Bolaño.

4. Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo

Pages: 172 or 182
Genre: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Chinese literature
Format: Hardcover

I’ve heard great things about this woman’s writing and I ordered this and the two Bolaño books off of Bookcloseouts. I couldn’t think of another book to get so I thought of getting this one. 

Most of these are mystery books  and I hope I enjoy them.