Thursday, December 21, 2006


Weds 20th dec

one thing i have been doing a lot of is reading. last time i was in phnom penh i picked up at least 10 books, i've read most of them. the few i haven't read yet are pretty heavygoing and i can't really face them at the moment (one is about Kirkegaard, one is 'Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw, one is something by Isaac Bashevas Singer), so i picked up a book lying around the bar: The Art Of Travelling by Alain De Botton. Now i probably wouldn't have bothered with such a title, but I'm to some extent acquainted with De Botton's work so i had a look. The book is ace. Each chapter focusses on a place (or places) with 'guides' who have been artists, philosophers, lecturers and so on. And of course all the places feature De Botton's 1st impressions and how his perceptions were altered by considering what other people had said about the same (or similar) places. It is essentially a philosphical guide which can help us see new things and find beauty in what surrounds us every day, or can help to appreciate new things by learning skills which can help us decipher new scenes more efficiently so it is possible to appreciate something different rather than simply being overloaded with information.

I really enjoyed this book, and it actually made me think. De Botton's ideas are separate from those of our 'guides' and he tells us what effect they had on him, if any. one chapter even led me to sketch a picture.

Recently Read:
Pie Any Means Necessary - Biotic Baking Brigade: it's basically about people who have had pies thrown at them, by whom, and why. Also recipies for vegan pies (to eat or throw).

(can't remember the title) - Iain M Banks: short stories, i like iain banks' stuff and jack talked me into some of his sci-fi. he's still a good writer, i might even check out oneof his 'Culture' novels.

American Hardcore: A Tribal History - Steven Blush: i couldn't resist the cover- it had some singer with blood over his face. The writer seemed like a bit of an idiot. he repeated himself, some sentances made no sense, and he just seemed full of shit. I may be guilty of all the above but i don't have a proof-reader and i'm not charging owt. nor am i claiming to know anything about anything. If his version of the truth is anywhere near accurate then there were a lot more nazis in the (US) hardcore scene then I was aware, also homophobia was rampant. Before reading this book i had never considered Misfits a hardcore band... I still don't think they are. Nevertheless it was good to get some insight into the heritage of Hardcore, even if the author did try to playdown the fact that Minor threat were as important as they were. The book did draw my attention to some other bands, and even some documentaries that i may try to track down when i get back to the uk.

A memoir of Iris Murdoch - John Bayley: I'd never heard of this woman who apprently wrote 27 novels. Her husband wrote the book about her and their life together while she was suffering the effects of reasonably advanced Alzheimers. It was a good read, even if i felt by the end of it that neither he nor she were people that i would particularly like. They express some views that I am very much opposed to. still, it's nice to know that some people have interesting and fulfiled lives - even if i don't like those people.

A Drink With Shane MacGowan - Victoria Mary Claker & Shane MacGowan: I never got into the pogues. This book has some interesting stories but the man comes across as a racist, idiot, homophobe, and megolomaniac. She seems deeply inlove with him so i can only assume that she sees something other than these attributes or she has some masochistic mechanism within that leads to her finding the above 'qualities' desireable.

Sex Slaves - by some woman who works at Birmingham (or was it Aston?) Uni: Excellent book about people-trafficking in asia (mostly girls and young women), gives an insight into the inner working of the sex industry in different parts of asia. the lies girls and their families are fed to lead them into the industry, the coniditions their kept in, the debts that are rigged against them, they way they'rre treated by punters, the demographic of the punters. what various goverments are (not) doing about the situations, what various NGOs ae trying to do and some STI statistics. There's interviews with prostitutes, with 'Mama Sans' (who run brothels) and even a couple with punters. It explains the view of women and of prostitutes in the different cultures. At times it does read a little like the author is very angry with men in general so it may be a little difficult for some men to read- some blanket statements which are quite unfair, but at the same time understandable given what the author witnessed, and what millions of young women, and young girls (pre-teen) are forced into. Essential reading no matter what continent you are on, what gender, or sexual preference.

News about the edge of the world when I can bring myself to collate the information.

if anyone comes across a copy of 'Jack Frusciante Has Left The Band' by Enrico Brizzi feel free to send it to ELIE, PO BOX 753, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.


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