Trinny in Jozi

Posts Tagged ‘reading

Three things I learned tonight

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1. The not mother of this evening´s not date is best friends with my matric English teacher.
2. You can get M-Net (DStv?) in Dubai, but it is lank expensive.
3. Chris Cleave is coming to the Dubai Literary Festival next year.

Which of these facts excites you most? Comments in the box, please.


Side projects

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Projects are attacking me from all sides. First of all I´m learning to dive; secondly I´m busy developing the pioneering hair sharing blog Not a baldy; and thirdly there´s the Infinite Summer project, which I alluded to in an earlier post, but haven´t yet had the time to engage fully with. Oh, and there´s another mini-project in sight, which I intend to launch on Saturday.

That said, I´m planning on having a relaxing weekend – one which shall be (relatively) alcohol* and Internet free. Dining at Amwaj with the Golden Sandpit Gang tomorrow evening, and then spending the night at the Shangri La in a Horizon Deluxe Room. I shall sleep peacefully on cotton sheets and feather pillows, with a huge double bed all to myself to sprawl out on. On the Friday I shall lounge by the swimming pool, sip a cocktail or two, and finally get properly stuck into Infinite Jest.

What are *you* up to this weekend?

* Well, at least I won´t be down the IV, as per usual for a Thursday evening.

The power of Twitter or, how I rediscovered David Foster Wallace

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Twitter has, consciously or not, been on my mind an awful lot over the past couple of days. Perhaps it´s because I´ve fallen for the #moonfruit promotion. Or because it´s the only social networking platform available at work. Whatever the cause, I ended up dreaming about @stephenfry last night, even though I hadn´t been following him. (Well, until this morning, when I realised I might as well. As well*.)

Anyway, in the face of several confirmed Twitter heathens, I decided to try to explain why I´m well on my way to becoming a Twitter addict. There´s not much too it, really, but there are two fellow tweeters who, more often than not, make my day. The first is @DrSamuelJohnson, who tweets about current affairs in the style of his namesake. He (?) regularly makes me laugh out loud, although you might not realise this, even if you´re sitting next to me, as I have perfected the art of laughing out loud, silently, inside my head.

The second is @BOOKSA, which keeps me up to date with the publications, musings and general banter of the South African literati. As well as their own contributions, @BOOKSA are adroit retweeters, which brings me to David Foster Wallace, and how an @BOOKSA retweet of an @KevBloom tweet, has led me to embark on the pleasures of an Infinite Summer.

“I know it´s hot in Dubai, but surely the heat isn´t infinite?” you may ask. You don´t know what I´m talking about, do you? I´ll admit I´m being obfuscatory, but then again, elucidation is merely a click away. Alternatively, you could wait until my next post…

* You can take the girl out of South Africa, but you can´t… blah, blah, blah, you know the rest.

Q&A and Slumdog Millionaire

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During my first year of varsity I took a wonderful course called Film and Literature. Or perhaps it was Literature and Film. Whatever the title, I have a suspicion it doesn´t exist anymore, which is a pity. As a confirmed bibliophile, I´m always* likely to choose the book over the film. And to be unreasonably upset when the film, in my opinion, is a travesty. But the course did prompt me to think about the nature of translation. For a film to capture the spirit of a novel, it doesn´t have to adhere slavishly to details or structure. Quite the opposite: a rendering that is too literal can be clumsy.

And that´s why I´m going to try, probably unsuccessfully,  not to  make any judgment calls about whether Q&A is better (or worse) than Slumdog Millionaire

I read the novel long enough ago to have forgotten all but the basic plot by the time I saw the film. I vaguely recalled that the love story was played up in the film, and that was about it. I loved the story, and its execution, in both media, and couldn´t understand when friends insisted the book was better.

But then I went back to the novel, and realised just how much the film deviates from the original plot, if not the structure. I´m not going to list all the differences, but you can click here if you´re interested.

Initially, I felt the film had perfectly captured the feel of the book. But on my second reading, I had, um, second thoughts.

Most of the stories that “explain” how Jamal Malik (Ram Mohammed Thomas in the book) knew the answers to the questions on the quiz show have been changed. As in they´re completely different stories. And I don´t understand why. The way the stories build on each other in the novel actually leads to a much deeper characterisation and character motivation. And although both the film and the book have something magical about them, in that you´re asked to suspend your disbelief, the novel is just that little bit more plausible, and real. 

The film has a lot going for it. The cinematography, the editing, and the soundtrack, to name just three facets. It´s a brilliant story, in its own right. But, what I can´t help feeling is, given the novel it was based on,
couldn´t it have been *even better*? 

Hey, I´m an editor. I like tinkering with people´s words and ideas. But it´s not about putting your own imprint on a story (or a film script for that matter) just for the sake of it. I know film and print are different media. But I can´t help feeling the changes should only be made to aid the translation between them. Slumdog Millionaire, I´m afraid, changed for the sake of it or rather, for the sake of the Hollywood dollar.

Q&A´s tranmogrification into Slumdog Millionaire also reminds me of another course I took at varsity: The Philosophy of Art and Literature, which for the record, does still exist. One of the texts we studied was Jorge Luis Borges´ Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote. I couldn´t summarise this philosophical premise adequately (or perhaps it´s just that laziness strikes again), so you can read the full text here.

But at the end of the fable, which essentially has Borges positing a certain Pierre Menard writing (not copying, not rewriting, but writing) his own Don Quixote, which is the same, at least in terms of the actual words (if not their meaning) as Cervantes´ Don Quixote, Borges leaves us with these thoughts:

“Menard (perhaps without wanting to) has enriched, by means of a new technique, the halting and rudimentary art of reading: this new technique is that of the deliberate anachronism and the erroneous attribution. This technique, whose applications are infinite, prompts us to go through the Odyssey as if it were posterior to the Aeneid and the book Le jardin du Centaure of Madame Henri Bachelier as if it were by Madame Henri Bachelier. This technique fills the most placid works with adventure. To attribute the Imitatio Christi to Louis Ferdinand Céline or to James Joyce, is this not a sufficient renovation of its tenuous spiritual indications?”

So what I´m asking is, after seeing Slumdog Millionaire, is it possible to read Q&A (or rather, to read Slumdog Millionaire, as the novel is titled in its latest imprint) without acknowledging the film as its predecessor? The post-film reading certainly enriched the novel for me. Ram Mohammed Thomas falling in love with a prostitute was a cliche, originally. But Ram Mohammed Thomas appearing on a gameshow with the aim of winning the cash to free his lover from her pimp had a lot more resonance than Jamal Malik appearing on a gameshow just hoping that his long-lost love would see him on television.

How do those of you who´ve read the film or seen the movie or, even better, done both, feel? Mim is going to see a screening of Slumdog Millionaire  next week where Vikas Swarup will be talking, so I´ll be interested to hear his take on the film as well. 

* Well, almost always – The Virgin Suicides being a notable exception.

From our in-house newsletter

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Trinny at the officeBig up to the third floor´s latest South African signing, Theresa Mallinson. Trinny joined in early January, arriving from a company in Liechtenstein (That´s right, Liechtenstein). The wordsmith brings her superb subbing skills to the business side of our magazine empire. Interesting factoid: bookworm Mallinson will read 10 novels in a one-week beach holiday.

Written by Trinny

February 6, 2009 at 12.15

Family conversation XXVIII

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T: Here’s a book for you to read. I know that’s always your favourite part of coming home for the holidays…
(Hands Nim a copy of Moxyland
Nim: Oh, it’s South African.
T: Ja, it’s a bit like A Clockwork Orange, but not really… 
Nim: I haven’t read it. Is A Clockwork Orange like a Terry’s chocolate orange
T: No, it’s a little more sinister…


Mim: So are you going to read Moxyland or not? I feel like reading it now…
Nim: I think it’s too adult for me.
Mim: What on earth do you mean?
Nim: Well, if it’s like A Clockwork Orange… I’ve seen the poster. Isn’t that the one where they go around chopping people’s eyelashes off?

Written by Trinny

December 9, 2008 at 10.40

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I have never especially liked Exclusive Books but have had a particular vendetta against them ever since one of their employees in the Cape Town International Airport store spied on my pin number, neglected to give me my debit card back, and stole R3 000 from my account back in December 2006.

The manager of the store where the unfortunate incident occurred went out of his way to help me resolve the matter but the general manager of Exclusive Books, a certain Mr Short, who was certainly short of PR skills, went out of his way to disabuse me of my naive notion that I had any claim against the store. If only I’d been more in tune with the zeitgeist, I’m sure would be a globally recognised website today!

Anyway, ever since then I have refused to shop at Exclusive Books, breaking this boycott only in the case of one or two, (okay, perhaps 17!) extreme reading material emergencies…

But now I have a new bone to pick with them. Exclusive Books in Sandton City is refusing to stock copies of the Derby Day book. Now, I may or may not have a close friend who was involved in producing said book but that is entirely beside the point…

I mean, hell, I’m not gonna buy a copy of Derby Day for myself. Schoolboy rugby has never interested in me; schoolboy waterpolo – now there’s a different matter! But my family did buy a copy for Nim, and another for a friend of his, because the book really is a brilliant concept for anyone who cares. And one would think that a store that stands to sell at least a couple of hundred copies during the Christmas season would indeed care enough to stock it!

Thus my enquiry when I went to Exclusive Books in Sandton City last week:
T: “Do you have a copy of Derby Day? I couldn’t see it on the shelves…” 
Shop assistant #1: “I’m not sure. Let me check on the computer.”
Shop assistant #2: “Computer says no.”
(Actually, she didn’t say that, which at least would’ve introduced some humour into the situation. What she she said was: “No, we don’t. They have it at Hyde Park.”) 
T: “Oh, that’s a pity. I really wanted to buy it for my little brother for Christmas, like right now. I can’t believe you don’t stock it! I guess I’ll have to go all the way to Hyde Park.”

I am sure that all my readers, or at least the ones who live in South Africa, also have many brothers, uncles and cousins who would like Derby Day for a Christmas present. If you can´t get the frigging book at Sandton City, where can you? Of course, it would be best to buy it direct from this link.

But if you really want to piss off Exclusive Book Sandton City, you can always go there in person and ask for a copy. If you´re not from Jozi, but still want to participate in this worthy cause, you can look up their phone number, which is in the link to the store above, and give them a call. Let´s get that book on the shelf by next week!