Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Grade: A-

When I first picked up this book I was on a bit of a dry spell with contemporary literature. I had read the beginning pages of Fault before but it never grabbed me immediately. Upon recommendations I decided to give another go at it, and I’m glad I did. The premise of the book is essentially a love story between two teenagers who have cancer. A lot of what the pair say are beyond their years, but I never felt it was impossible for them to speak such. There are many novels that give me a sense the author is pretending to be the characters, but fortunately it did not happen here. I was very clear who Hazel and Augustus are, and I almost felt a kinship with them. Perhaps it is because of that kinship I was also completely heartbroken the entire time reading it. In particular, I spared no tears reading the last part of the book, and the last time the waterworks happened was reading The Kite Runner five years ago.

It is true that John Green is incredibly gifted with making sublime sentences that make your mouth water. So often while reading I marveled at his ability to create these vivid scenes in my mind, and I was completely jealous that I was not able to do the same. After I finished I reflected on the message the novel wants to present, and I wasn’t sure there is one. This might be the one flaw of the book – the lack of a take away. It appears that this book is just a story, a beautifully made fluff piece, much like many Hollywood films we watch for enjoyment not for thoughtful reexamination of our lives.

Despite that, I would still recommend reading this novel, if not for the superior sentences, then for the fact that Green quotes William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow,” all of my favorites. So needless to say it certainly struck a cord with me. If you enjoy a quick read that you can savor, but is not life altering, then this is the book for you.

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Friday Reflections #4

Sooooo I did not write anything creative this week, but I did write, a whole lot in fact. Some times I feel like my day job interferes with my ability to think and write creatively because all of I’m doing is writing courteous emails and boring data reports, neither of which really allows room for any fun.

Let’s sidetrack for a minute. When I first started writing and thinking about actually letting other people see my writing, I asked my mom if I should have a pen name. She told me no because she wanted a famous daughter whom she can brag about, and if I had a fake name who would believe her? No, actually she did not say that, but no promises that she didn’t think it. She did encourage me to use my real name though because she felt like it was silly to make up a new name.

Well, like any typical teenager I did not listen to her. I like the thought of having an alter ego; it is just too much fun. I did go through quite a few really bad ones before I settled on this current one. Seeing how I have this whole blog set up and everything I guess I’ll stick to it.

But like any good daughter I did not disappoint mom either. She can see my birth name in shining light on grant reports. Cheers, mom!

 

Friday Reflections #4

Friday Reflections #3

I remember reading in a book that all good writers write based on experiences from the first sixteen years of their lives. I don’t know how true or untrue that is, but I definitely remember panicking and thinking that I was quickly approaching sixteen and have not gathered anything exciting yet.

So many years later and here I am, still without grand adventures to pull stories from. What has changed though is how I interpret what it means to write from experience. Regardless of genre or style I think what makes a story good is its ability to connect with the reader. And what can make that connection stronger than to focus on the most common human emotions and experiences? The key, however, is how to revisit the simplicity of life, chew on it, spit it out so it would look different from the first time around. I think if a story is able to do that then it is really worth reading.

Well, here’s to hoping that I can accomplish this task!

Friday Reflections #3

My Favorite Person

Grandpa turned eighty this year. He is getting so old I can’t believe how fast time went by. I still remember coming home as an elementary school student with a writing assignment about my favorite person. I think to avoid the often faced problem of picking a parent I picked my grandpa.

In retrospect my grandpa could very well be my favorite person. It’s not because he is anything but my grandpa. He is proud, stubborn and never tells me he loves me, but I never once doubted that it is true.

Grandpa was the one who took me to the open ground in front of the school cafeteria to teach me how to ride a bike. He was the one who brought me and my cousin to the abandoned part of campus to catch grasshoppers, and we kept them on our balcony until they died an unfortunate death. Grandpa was the one who showed me how to read time on his old brown clock above the dresser, and I in turn taught my cousin. He was the first to give me a real responsibility. I kept the time and prepared his medicine when he needed them. And when I could not resist the temptation of  opening the capsule, and panicking as I tried to put it back together, he did not get mad but laughed it off.

And I also remember coming home one day and talking to him but suddenly he did not hear me. Grandpa was getting old and I had to start raising my voice. Now days I listen to him ramble on and on, repeating the same things he told me last time. Now days he has trouble zipping up his jacket, and I have to remember to slow down my pace. He also doesn’t remember much of the memories we shared together, but still though, he is my favorite person.

Grandpa, however, doesn’t pick favorites. He always gave me the same things he gave to my cousin, and he never loved either one of us more, at least not visibly so. I’m not sure how he is able to do that because I clearly have a favorite.

I always want to write from life, but I find it so extremely challenging. In any case, I put this together just now and I wanted to avoid keeping this one as a draft for the next a million years so I posted it! Hope I’m not going to regret this!

Who is your favorite?

My Favorite Person

Friday Reflections #2

Recently I read on a literary magazine that the editors prefer stories with characters who have names, because only then do they feel that these characters come alive and have identities. I couldn’t agree with that. There are plenty of wonderful stories with nameless faces. I don’t think the name is important at all; what is in a name anyway? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. As long as the character is described well, I don’t think it matters if she is called Janet or Catherine, or if he is Benjamin or Travis. Who really cares?

Of course, there are times when names are very defining. They can carry certain je ne sais pas with them, yes. But the air I wish to create in my stories often do not call for names, and I use them sparingly. Sometimes I don’t even want to make the gender known. Some experiences, I feel, can be shared between both men and women.

Maybe I’m just being difficult, but I can’t find it in myself to name them if they did not come to me with names already.

Friday Reflections #2

Friday Reflections #1

Do you want me to help you disappear? I found myself say as your desperate eyes met mine. Before I could catch

You already sank beneath the sky. That wasn’t what I meant.

I decided today that I would go back to trying to write more often, and so I decided to visit Trifecta again. Silly me forgot that it is already Friday and they are no longer taking link ups to prompts. In any case, I wrote the above as a response to this week’s challenge, which is to write 33 additional words to “that wasn’t what I meant.”

This actually led me to think about my horrible writing habits. I have tons of unedited drafts in my phone that date back to 2012, but I have not successfully finished revising them. Every time I visit them I just feel like there is something that isn’t right and I cannot allow myself to show the world such ugly little compositions. They are like some overgrown, brittle, yellowing weed you discovered in your parents’ muck of a backyard. They are stubborn and insist on hogging up space, but you can’t find it in your heart to love them. It is a tragedy really.

Another problem I have is my crazy idea of “being inspired.” Unfortunately for me, my inspirations come at very inopportune times. For example, during my private one-on-one with certain bathroom utilities, or at 4:13 in the morning between act I and II of my dream. In fact, I have tried to record these sudden outbursts of brain fluidity. I clearly remember placing a notebook and a pen on my nightstand so I can write down whatever came to my mind in the middle of the night. However, it never seem to be as clever an idea when I wake in the morning.

I also tend to seek out inspirations in real life. I mean what better than to people watch, right? The best writers write true to life. But I think I have a problem with watching people too closely. Sometimes I wish I had the cloak of invisibility so people wouldn’t insist that I stop staring at them any more.

In any case, in going forward, I will try to take out time and write more. It is probably best if I read more too. It’s about time to graduate high school in my reading speed. I currently read at the speed of an 8th grader due to my weird obsession with touching every word with my gaze. I should stop that. Probably.

Friday Reflections #1

Koi No Yokan

That’s when I saw him. I didn’t know who he was, where was he from and where was he going. His face was marked by this short stubby nose and a half crooked smile — there had got to be no charm whatsoever there. He was definitely far from what I considered to be handsome. I mean after all those Korean dramas I watched, I kind of expected my ‘love at first sight’ moment to be a little more grandiose — not that I had anticipated a tall handsome rich guy to fall head over heels for me (not that I would complain) but this was truly a little lacking. And yet here I am feeling some sort of weird attraction.

Koi no yokan. I read it about this morning on an article mom printed out about words that do not exist in the English language; it means a feeling that we will soon fall in love.

Heck, I didn’t even know if he was single, let alone fall in love, but I couldn’t shake off the feeling that this is it even despite all my internal complaints.

So there I stood, in my fuchsia coat, awkwardly holding my left arm with my right, in a room of people in black sweaters and navy blue blazers. Dreadful colors.

Continue reading “Koi No Yokan”

Koi No Yokan

Pigeon

Trapped, in what seemed like eternity.

Wings of brilliant blue, royal plum, shimmering feathers, extending, as she glossed over, kissing every curve and turn, every nook and trap.

Doors opened and closed, but a prolonged gestation – a pregnant pause of indecision and she missed the opportunity. Her claws of faded orange could not find the place to push.

She was afraid, I think – of what the world was like.

She has been stuck, blind in this empty hollow place. Neither here nor there for too long; the cold wind didn’t even hurt anymore.

She has gotten used to the yellowing light on the ceiling as her sun. The buzzing of moths as her only companions. She has long forgotten if the sky is supposed to be this concrete blue, or is this even blue at all?

So no matter how she flapped or how she jumped or how she shot up so high, She could not soar.

The crashing of rocks hit the bottom of her stomach, and she could almost taste it.

Pigeon

2.

That weekend, every inch of the Earth crawled with people, like worker ants on vacation. There were children screaming, laughing, running after each other, and into their parents’ arms. There were groups of teenagers, finally out from school, lamenting on how slow time is, and how much they want to be free from the grasp of their parents. There were lovers — she especially hated lovers — cuddling on the benches, holding hands, kissing at every turn and every corner.

It was a quarter to eleven when they met for lunch at the small, cramped Italian place, between Arnold and Forrest, built at least fifty years ago, and not much has changed since. The chairs were designed to last, but not for comfort, and the tables rocked back and forth on the stone laid floor. The waiters — which consisted of the owner’s three sons — were particularly bad, constantly spilling food and drinks. If it weren’t for him — for memories of him, she would never come here.

She sat next to the white picket fence surrounding the restaurant and stared through the menu. The daily special was not a matter of concern.

A man in dark navy suit crept up behind her. His shoes were nicely polished, shining from the reflection of the sun. His tie, a floral piece, was neatly tucked under his jacket. He stopped behind her, chuckled as he landed his warm hand on her shoulder; the inside of his palm sweated through the thin satin. She felt his breath on the back of her neck as he planted a wet kiss on her painted cheeks.

 

He sat down and asked for an order of lobster ravioli.

“And for the lady?”

“Just a glass of pinot noir rouge please.”

“Great, and may I recommend our dessert of the day –”

“That won’t be necessary, would it?” He winked at her, pulled out his fattened wallet, and stole a quick glance at her chest. Then, he reached out his left arm and pointed his index finger at her:

“You should’ve ordered pinot noir. You always used to order thatWhat’s pinot noir rouge anyway?”

 

She shrugged, and turned to observe the streets. People looked at her with searching eyes, and she glared.

He adjusted the tail of his blazer, undid the last button on his shirt, pulled at his tie and continued, “You got the check?”

Continue reading “2.”

2.