PRATTLE, BATHE, DRINK


Nearly everything is as pretty as a chic  magazine in  Janice YK Lee’s much ballyhooed debut novel, THE PIANO TEACHER. For all that,  just about every character is an anti-hero. The story is set in  a cosmopolitan section of Hong Kong that swarms with a mix of wealthy Chinese and over-privileged Brits. Lee’s characters drink Pimm’s and champagne amid rich people’s detritus– “…Persian carpets, and the occasional Chinese table topped with Burmese silver bowls…”, Herend bric-a-brac, Murano perfume bottles, Hermes scarves.

The story opens with the arrival  of newlywed Claire Pendleton in the colony, following World War II . Thereafter, the sequence of events owes a great deal to E. M. Forster, Paul Scott and Michael Ondaatje. Twenty-eight tear-old Claire is a provincial with more pejudices than smarts–think A PASSAGE TO INDIA. She meets forty-something, war scarred Will Truesdale with whom she embarks on an affair–think THE ENGLISH PATIENT. Lo and behold, she begins to shed her prejudices and practically goes native–think THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN.

Lee’s plot  alternates between past and present.   Brit Will Truesdale arrives in pre-war Hong Kong. He  mingles with the elite and  falls in love with insufferably cute Trudy Liang, the daughter of a Portuguese beauty and a wealthy Chinese.  Their romance is one of the most dismal ever to go to press. He is too self-contained  to show his feelings and she is too self-absorbed  to own up to her superficiality. It isn’t her fault, poor dear. It is all  imposed from without,

“People have always expected me to be bad and thoughtless and shallow and I do my best to accommodate their expectations.” And,

“I’ve   always known I am a chameleon, my love. I was a terrible daughter because my father let me be one…If I  was with a scoundrel, then I became the kind of woman that would be with a scoundrel.”

But no matter. The important thing is that she is a “whippet thin” as an  Elle model–Lee is a former editor of that magazine– an heiress, she owns  heaps of great clothes, including a dress the color of orange sherbet,  and fab jewelry, including an emerald the size of the Ritz. What is more, she bathes in Badedas and she wears jasmine perfume. These are  indubitably clues to her character, but I cannot muster the interest to find out their meaning. She prattles, bathes and drinks.

Then comes the war and Trudy has occasion to deliver herself of pearls of wisdom,

“If you act as if you were bulletproof,  most people will assume you are…”

“Everything seems better in the morning…”‘

What with the Japanese  hellbent on visiting all manner of villainies upon the Chinese and the Brits–the good Japanese in this story are very sketchily drawn–a shortage of Badedas and most other essentials ensues, Will is clapped into a detention camp, Trudy starts  a dangerous relationship with a porcine Japanese–truly bad characters cannot be whippet thin– member of the gendarmerie and so does her epicene cousin Dominique.

Cut to Claire whose presence in Hong Kong coincides with the Coronation and an examination of who did what during the war. As she continues her voyage of self-discovery, Claire gets a job teaching the daughter of the wealthy  and “exquisite” Victor and Melody Chen. She becomes a cleptomaniac, yearns for a baby–is there a connection here?–and gets nowhere fast with Will–think  OUT OF AFRICA.   Collaborators try to justify themselves, war prisoners try to return to normal life, and the story ends as one would expect it to end.

Would I buy this book? As Trudy says when she  does not want to answer a question,

“Peut-etre.”

PRATTLE, BATHE, DRINK


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Nearly everything is as pretty as a chic magazine in Janice YK Lee’s much ballyhooed debut novel, THE PIANO TEACHER. For all that, just about every character is an anti-hero. The story is set in a cosmopolitan section of Hong Kong that swarms with a mix of wealthy Chinese and over-privileged Brits. Lee’s characters drink Pimm’s and champagne amid rich people’s detritus– “…Persian carpets, and the occasional Chinese table topped with Burmese silver bowls…”, Herend bric-a-brac, Murano perfume bottles, Hermes scarves.

The story opens with the arrival of newlywed Claire Pendleton in the colony, following World War II . Thereafter, the sequence of events owes a great deal to E. M. Forster, Paul Scott and Michael Ondaatje. Twenty-eight tear-old Claire is a provincial with more pejudices than smarts–think A PASSAGE TO INDIA. She meets forty-something, war scarred Will Truesdale with whom she embarks on an affair–think THE ENGLISH PATIENT. Lo and behold, she begins to shed her prejudices and practically goes native–think THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN.

Lee’s plot alternates between past and present. Brit Will Truesdale arrives in pre-war Hong Kong. He mingles with the elite and falls in love with insufferably cute Trudy Liang, the daughter of a Portuguese beauty and a wealthy Chinese. Their romance is one of the most dismal ever to go to press. He is too self-contained to show his feelings and she is too self-absorbed to own up to her superficiality. It isn’t her fault, poor dear. It is all imposed from without,

“People have always expected me to be bad and thoughtless and shallow and I do my best to accommodate their expectations.” And,

“I’ve always known I am a chameleon, my love. I was a terrible daughter because my father let me be one…If I was with a scoundrel, then I became the kind of woman that would be with a scoundrel.”

But no matter. The important thing is that she is a “whippet thin” as an Elle model–Lee is a former editor of that magazine– an heiress, she owns heaps of great clothes, including a dress the color of orange sherbet, and fab jewelry, including an emerald the size of the Ritz. What is more, she bathes in Badedas and she wears jasmine perfume. These are indubitably clues to her character, but I cannot muster the interest to find out their meaning. She prattles, bathes and drinks.

Then comes the war and Trudy has occasion to deliver herself of pearls of wisdom,

“If you act as if you were bulletproof, most people will assume you are…”

“Everything seems better in the morning…”‘

What with the Japanese hellbent on visiting all manner of villainies upon the Chinese and the Brits–the good Japanese in this story are very sketchily drawn–a shortage of Badedas and most other essentials ensues, Will is clapped into a detention camp, Trudy starts a dangerous relationship with a porcine Japanese–truly bad characters cannot be whippet thin– member of the gendarmerie and so does her epicene cousin Dominique.

Cut to Claire whose presence in Hong Kong coincides with the Coronation and an examination of who did what during the war. As she continues her voyage of self-discovery, Claire gets a job teaching the daughter of the wealthy and “exquisite” Victor and Melody Chen. She becomes a cleptomaniac, yearns for a baby–is there a connection here?–and gets nowhere fast with Will–think OUT OF AFRICA. Collaborators try to justify themselves, war prisoners try to return to normal life, and the story ends as one would expect it to end.

Would I buy this book? As Trudy says when she does not want to answer a question,

“Peut-etre.”

PRATTLE, BATHE, DRINK


Nearly everything is as pretty as a chic magazine in Janice YK Lee’s much ballyhooed debut novel, THE PIANO TEACHER. For all that, just about every character is an anti-hero. The story is set in a cosmopolitan section of Hong Kong that swarms with a mix of wealthy Chinese and over-privileged Brits. Lee’s characters drink Pimm’s and champagne amid rich people’s detritus– “…Persian carpets, and the occasional Chinese table topped with Burmese silver bowls…”, Herend bric-a-brac, Murano perfume bottles, Hermes scarves.
The story opens with the arrival of newlywed Claire Pendleton in the colony, following World War II . Thereafter, the sequence of events owes a great deal to E. M. Forster, Paul Scott and Michael Ondaatje. Twenty-eight tear-old Claire is a provincial with more pejudices than smarts–think A PASSAGE TO INDIA. She meets forty-something, war scarred Will Truesdale with whom she embarks on an affair–think THE ENGLISH PATIENT. Lo and behold, she begins to shed her prejudices and practically goes native–think THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN.
Lee’s plot alternates between past and present. Brit Will Truesdale arrives in pre-war Hong Kong. He mingles with the elite and falls in love with insufferably cute Trudy Liang, the daughter of a Portuguese beauty and a wealthy Chinese. Their romance is one of the most dismal ever to go to press. He is too self-contained to show his feelings and she is too self-absorbed to own up to her superficiality. It isn’t her fault, poor dear. It is all imposed from without,
“People have always expected me to be bad and thoughtless and shallow and I do my best to accommodate their expectations.” And,
“I’ve always known I am a chameleon, my love. I was a terrible daughter because my father let me be one…If I was with a scoundrel, then I became the kind of woman that would be with a scoundrel.”
But no matter. The important thing is that she is a “whippet thin” as an Elle model–Lee is a former editor of that magazine– an heiress, she owns heaps of great clothes, including a dress the color of orange sherbet, and fab jewelry, including an emerald the size of the Ritz. What is more, she bathes in Badedas and she wears jasmine perfume. These are indubitably clues to her character, but I cannot muster the interest to find out their meaning. She prattles, bathes and drinks.
Then comes the war and Trudy has occasion to deliver herself of pearls of wisdom,
“If you act as if you were bulletproof, most people will assume you are…”
“Everything seems better in the morning…”‘
What with the Japanese hellbent on visiting all manner of villainies upon the Chinese and the Brits–the good Japanese in this story are very sketchily drawn–a shortage of Badedas and most other essentials ensues, Will is clapped into a detention camp, Trudy starts a dangerous relationship with a porcine Japanese–truly bad characters cannot be whippet thin– member of the gendarmerie and so does her epicene cousin Dominique.
Cut to Claire whose presence in Hong Kong coincides with the Coronation and an examination of who did what during the war. As she continues her voyage of self-discovery, Claire gets a job teaching the daughter of the wealthy and “exquisite” Victor and Melody Chen. She becomes a cleptomaniac, yearns for a baby–is there a connection here?–and gets nowhere fast with Will–think OUT OF AFRICA. Collaborators try to justify themselves, war prisoners try to return to normal life, and the story ends as one would expect it to end.
Would I buy this book? As Trudy says when she does not want to answer a question,
“Peut-etre.”

IF IT’S MONDAY, IT MUST BE MEATLESS







A tasty source of protein, avocados are plentiful and  and inexpensive at this time of the year.

My family and I are not major meat eaters. Nevertheless we have just joined  the Meatless Monday movement and we are asking our town and the local university to consider doing the same. At a time when some political figures pollute the air space with claims that global warming is a myth created by liberals, we feel that it is important to take to take action.Even though we take the size of our carbon footprint seriously and try to reduce it whenever we can,  there is much more that we need to do. We need to more in order to green  the community and the local university.  

If  studies done in New Zealand are correct, our Great Dane’s carbon footprint is four times larger than that of a Toyota Land Cruiser. How large is ours? We read recently that every time we do a  Google search we use up energy sufficient to brew three cups of tea. We are great Googlers  and we  shudder to think of the many ways in which we squander non-renewable resources.

Giving up meat once a week is an easy thing to do.   At the tri-state area we have access to a great variety of inexpensive legumes, nuts and protein rich fruit such as avocados. We live in a rural area where  farmers are glad to provide  the goat and sheep’s milk with we use to make cheese. 
Folks in Tel Aviv, Ghent and Sao Paulo agree that going meatless on Monday  is easy peasy. Won’t you?
Here are some reasons why it is a good move,






Environmental Benefits

  • REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation.[3] And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
  • MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef.[4] Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.[5]
  • HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S.[6] Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein.[7] Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.





UPDATE: We have approached Town Council Persons Wanda Grantham and Jim Ford   in hopes that they will suggest that Shepherdstown and Shepherd University join in.

















    DON’T YOU LOVE CODE?



    Kumbayah, residents of Little Macondo, Malaysia and Poitou-Charentes! Following the advice of empowerment gurus, I identified my passions–Lior Ashkenazi, Orlando Figes, Simon Sebag, chocolate,Yevgenia’s wild mushroom borstch, among others–I felt that it was time to build my knowledge of Blogger Analytics. Vhat catastrophe, vhat hoomiliashawn! Nowhere could I find forward slash body thingie after which one must paste Analytic’s asynchronous tracking code. The Infanta rescued me and I am ready to offer an informal tutorial,
    Copy the asynchronous tracking code from the Google Analytics page.
    Open your blog page.
    Click on Layout.
    Click on Edit HTML

    Paste code into blog template immediately before
    Replace characters beginning with UA- with your web ID, which you can find in your Analytics account.
    Save.
    Et voila, you have Analytics tracking. You have predefined filter capability, mwahahaha. Simple, no? Very simple once you understand that the place the Analytics code is in your template. Now, why didn’t Google geeks explain this more clearly? Shouldn’t code be about clarity? BTW, it is most annoying that the new Blogger editor consistently eat the icon one must have in order to post graphics. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, blast it.
    Anyhoo, I see you are still in your jammies. I prescribe two doppio espressos and a brisk walk. As for me, I will start reading my next for-review book, Lori Gottlieb’s MARRY HIM while I wait to hear from author Robert Hicks. My review of his novel, A SEPARATE COUNTRY, will appear shortly in my book blog http://www.richtexts.blogspot.com.